A few weeks ago, I asked my very good friend Caitlin if she knew anyone involved in PGH arts and entertainment that I could interview. Without hesitation, she listed quite a few people! (Caitlin is connected. She’s awesome that way.) One of the people on her list was a young girl named Gionna. She’s said she was an art major at CAPA and was the sweetest girl I could meet. When I contacted Gionna, I’m glad to say she lived up to that reputation. We met at Cannon Coffee and she was delightful and had a lot of really fun stuff to say. Interviewing her was a joy.
1. Hi Gionna! You just graduated from CAPA middle school and have been accepted into the high school as an arts major. Tell me what made you decide to pursue that talent.
My 3 years spent at CAPA have been wonderful and I have seen myself do things in my art form I never thought I was good enough to do. When I saw how the teachers pushed me and always wanted me to succeed I never wanted to stop and I sent new goals for myself and really want to live up to them. Not only that but the academics, I’ve excelled so far with both test scores and learning and know I won’t ever find that good of an education that suits me individually anywhere else.
2. What was your audition process like? Are you enjoying CAPA?
My audition process for the high school was obviously harder than the middle school and took almost an entire school day. For the audition we had to do several things. First we were given 30 minutes to do a still life drawing of tools set up in front of us. Then we were given another 30 minutes to do a drawing of anything we wanted as long as it fitted the certain theme given. Then we had to choose one of two pieces from famous artists and write an artist statement on it and we weren’t timed on that. Then it was time to go into the 9 high school teachers. (They all came over to me it was scary but really awesome because everyone else only had two viewing their piece and questioning them) they expected to see all of your sketchbooks, a still life piece of plants, a shaded hand drawing, a self-portrait, a landscape piece, a painting, 2 pieces in a different medium and then 2 free draws. Then whatever else you wanted to show to them. Plus one 3-d piece which was optional but expected. While they would question ne, my pieces and things about me and the high school. (second question in 2) I personally love CAPA. I have a good relationship with the teachers and my friends. At CAPA in each class I feel that I am learning at my own pace and being challenged. We aren’t all put at the same level, like in 8th grade there was 3 different levels of math, math8, algebra psp and geometry. Every class is like that except for Spanish and phys.ed until you get to high school. But even passed the levels the teachers try to make the work suit what you’re capable of. And that’s what I really love about the academics part. In my art form I’ve always felt like I’ve belonged, I’ve always showed myself, while learning the basics of art. In my art class I feel so free and I love that. I just feel so at home and accepted at CAPA, that’s one of the reasons I don’t want to leave CAPA because I don’t think I would fit in or be comfortable or even challenged academically if I leave there.
3. You’re obviously very young yet very determined. Where do you get that from?
I’m young, yes; the determination however isn’t easily explainable. If I were to try and explain it I would say it comes from all those people who have doubted themselves or even me… Family always supports you because that’s what they are supposed to do but there are a lot of others who will just flat out tell you that’s bad, you’re no good or there are already enough artists. But I wanted to prove them wrong. Not only that but once I stuck to it I felt something special, free and new. I just became determined to live up to my families, teachers and my own expectations. And create ideas never thought of and recreate the forgotten. I just never want to let anyone down and I feel like there are lots of things out there for me to do and create. And I don’t want to miss anything. But like I said it’s extremely hard to put to words. If you would like more than that feel free to ask more questions.
4. When we sat together a few days ago, you mentioned that you were working on a bunch of summer projects. Can you tell us a bit about those projects?
Well I planned to do a different design sketch in my sketchbook until it’s filled. I plan to do portraits in several Medias as practice. As said before too I wanted to finish my 8th grade final project. I also started making clothes last year and I wanted to try and make a line that goes with myCaprisun dress. If I finish that then I would like to work on some more 2 point perspective building drawings and then draw out a design for my shoes that I have for that.
5. As a writer, I get ideas all the time but of course, due to time and my workload, I can’t work on all my ideas at once! So what makes you decide to work on which project first?
You know when I have so many projects I want to do and so many bumbling ideas, it’s never easy to choose honestly. I just go with which ever I feel more inspired to do first. You being a writer there are always thousands of ideas and things you want to write about but there’s always one that you keep coming back to and having more ideas for just like an artist does.
6. You’ve lived in Pittsburgh all your life. What do you enjoy most about the city?
I love the city for everything new and old that’s around, the views, the styles of clothes, all the different things people do. I mean there are so many different things in the city to love and “hate”. There’s inspiration in both and you see it everywhere in every little thing every day.
7. How has Pittsburgh influenced your art?
I guess this question is very similar to the last. But what I would say is growing up in PittsburghI remember a lot if things when I was little, speaking ad 10 to 6 years ago that’s different now. So those memories I have from then inspire what I do now in art.
8. You were gracious enough to show me some of your work. It’s gorgeous! I was very impressed. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do in ten or even five years time. What advice do you have for young artists?
The biggest advice I would give to young artist is never doubt yourself or let anyone put you down. I have had both of those get to me over the years even before being at CAPA but look at me now! Also when anyone no matter who tells you everything has already been done doesn’t listen, because no one can copy you and you can’t copy anyone else. You are unique, and the worlds waiting to see that.
9. Finally, Pittsburgh is a very generous community when it comes to nurturing art and talent. Who has helped you the most?
I have to give big thanks to Mr.Hugley and Mr. Capone who were at my auditions and helped me through my CAPA years, without then art would just be another hobby. But I can’t forget my wonderful parents who have both supported me and have been blown away as well as my 5th grade teacher Mr.Sague, they always saw a spark in me and they refused to let it go out.