I make mixed media portraits, painting faces in realistic detail, and then collaging repurposed objects on the portrait to create features like hair, glasses, and clothing. The main body of my work is my Bronx Faces series. Bronx Faces is a collaborative community art project that pairs the stories and experiences of Bronx natives with a personalized mixed media portrait. The objects that I choose to collage are inspired by my subject’s story: making the portraits soft, vibrant, delicate, or expressive based on what they chose to share with me. The familiar and nostalgic objects that I choose to collage – local newspapers, CDs, Metrocards, headphones, and Pokémon cards – are based on the participant’s words, giving their stories a tight grip on the final outcome of the portrait. This contrast between painted realism and recycled object also challenges the viewer to distinguish between the real and the realistic, while igniting the imagination for the use of materials that seem to be ordinary, outdated, or disposable.
I am searching for the most immediate way of communicating intimacy, interconnectedness, and advocacy through the human form. Bronx Faces challenges me to consider deeply the idea of space and the varied ways that we navigate it. I am navigating closer towards the work I hope to create in the future: small, sacred moments of intimacy and tenderness juxtaposed by the calloused socioeconomic environment often associated with New York City. The need to portray my New York City community through figurative art will stretch over the course of my career. It is crucial that we are able to see ourselves represented in the most authentic and thoughtful way, namely to have our stories depicted honestly, and making respectful space for us in the discourse of contemporary art.
Antoinette Legnini (b. 1994) is an artist born and raised in the Bronx. She graduated from Fordham University in 2016 with a BA in Visual Arts and Women’s Studies and is pursuing an MFA in Painting at the New York Academy of Art (2022). Legnini is best known for her ongoing collaborative community art project called “Bronx Faces” – a series that pairs the stories of Bronx natives with a mixed media portrait. Legnini has participated in residencies at the BX Arts Factory, Otis College of Art and Design, and Con Artist Collective. Legnini lives and works in the Bronx.
Artist’s Website: https://www.legniniart.com/