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UMPI professor takes part in Waterville PechaKucha event

Monday, 14 February 2011

University of Maine at Presque Isle Art professor Renee Felini recently took part in a slideshow event that has taken the world by storm. Felini served as one of 10 presenters at the city of Waterville's first PechaKucha Night held last fall at the Hathaway Creative Center. More than 200 people turned out for the event.

PechaKucha, Japanese for chit-chat, was created in 2003 by Tokyo architects Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein. Presenters are allotted 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide, meaning that once 6 minutes and 40 seconds are up, so is their talk. People have embraced this "short slideshow" concept and PechaKucha nights have been held in cities around the world, from Beijing and Paris to San Francisco and Boston.

Felini delivered a short presentation on her artwork, which also showcased her life performance project that is now celebrating its 10th year. The "Art As My Vehicle" series, which includes 10 pieces so far, focuses on actions Felini has taken to change her life circumstance and the art that has emerged from those actions. For example, in AAMV #1 13 Days Without a Cigarette – How I Quit Smoking, which was created in 2001-2002, Felini replaced cigarettes with chewing gum for thirteen days. She then created an art installation, framing the chewed pieces of gum and sculpting enlarged, three-dimensional replicas of each piece of gum out of clay. The finished ceramic pieces, resembling tumors, hung a year later from the date they were started. Felini has not smoked a cigarette since beginning the creation of AAMV #1.

"The work has allowed me to face fears, overcome personal boundaries, and gain new life experience," Felini said. "Additionally, the knowledge that I'm sharing the art form with others encourages me to maintain the end result of each one for, were I to revert to behaviors the original pieces aimed to overcome, the purpose would be lost and all my efforts would ultimately be in vain."

Felini continued: "Artistic creation provides me an outlet, a catalyst for change, and a way to cope. I use it to analyze my personal experience, as well as to mark major transitions in my life."

She hopes that her artwork inspires others to acknowledge the art present in their own everyday lives, and is thrilled that she was able to share her artwork at the Waterville PechaKucha Night.

"The PechaKucha Waterville team created an amazing environment for individuals to share their life's work with the public," she said.

For more information about Felini's artwork, visit www.ReneeFelini.com.