Rona Conti is a painter and Japanese calligrapher whose artwork is represented in numerous public, private and corporate collections and museums in the United States and internationally. She is a graduate with a double major in painting and ceramics of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio and spent a year studying painting in Paris with Roger Barr with post studies at The Boston Museum School, Boston University, the University of Perugia, Italy and Harvard University, Boston, MA.
From the 60’s to the 80’s, her abstract paintings were rooted in observations of the natural world, re-interpreted with a myriad of color and strokes. Her striped and calligraphic marking series were exhibited widely and written about by critics Karen Wilkin, Kenworth Moffett, Carl Belz, Robert Taylor, and Kyra Montagu, among others. Both intuitive and intellectual, they celebrated color and line.
In the 1980’s, while continuing to work primarily in acrylic paint, she was first introduced to the hand papermaking process at a workshop in Boston. The tactile and sensuous quality of the paper pulp, the compelling texture and light of the base sheets, the glorious color of the pulps, and the myriad possibilities of expression enthralled her immediately.
She began working in Boston and later in New York at Dieu Donne Papermill, creating contemporary artwork. The surface of paper and that of canvas elicited distinct and separate responses. She became more and more drawn to explorations in paper, exhibiting paper works alongside abstract painting. Her paintings were a markedly slow process, building layer upon layer, whereas pulp painting allowed for immediacy as images presented themselves and were transformed intuitively onto the paper surface.
In the mid 90’s, she began to explore how she might realize a dream which had its beginnings in college, one of studying Japanese calligraphy formed while reading about, seeing, and being inspired by Japanese art, particularly Hamada Shoji and other Japanese ceramicists and calligraphy with its stark black and white, found in the superior collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Thus in 1999, with a cultural visa, she was able to live in Japan for two years and study Japanese calligraphy with Mieko Kobayashi Sensei. She then began dividing her time between her home base in Boston and Japan, returning frequently for three months at a time to continue her studies. Upon achieving a certain level of Mastery, a pen/artist name (????) was conferred upon her by Kobayashi Sensei.
If any one thing defines her spiritual home, Japan, it is paper. On her returns to her Boston studio she continued with her calligraphy studies via mail and went to New York to continue her hand paper artwork. Exploring new ways of image making, sometimes incorporating calligraphy fragments, alongside works of strong color like her abstract paintings, there are works of greater subtlety and defined form. Her explorations are ongoing and seem to be the perfect marriage of continued interactions of color, texture, calligraphy, and the non-representational or abstract.
Invited to exhibit calligraphy at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art with the International Association of Calligraphers for the last six years, she received the “Work of Excellence" Prize four times. She was invited to demonstrate Japanese Calligraphy at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2009.
She has recently exhibited work at the Orange Gallery in New South Wales, in Lushan and Beijing, China, and in Japan in various venues. She was chosen to contribute calligraphy to a recently published book entitled Kyoto:The Forest Within the Gate, brushing poems by Edith Shiffert, originally in English, then translated into Japanese and written in kana and Kanji calligraphy.
Her work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, The Rose Art Museum, and the Sugihara Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania, in the corporate collections of The Vanguard Group, Shawmut Bank, Boston, Triangle Trust, New York, Marco Polo Foods, Loir-et-Cher, France, McCormack and Dodge, Thorndike, Doran, Paine and Lewis, Boston, MA among others. Private collections include Audrey and James Foster, Weston, MA, Lois and Henry Foster, Boston, MA, Dr. Carl Belz, Franconia, NH, Rebeka Bordeau, Santiago, Chile, among many others in the United States, Japan, Mersin, Turkey, Brisbane, Australia, and Dublin, Ireland. She has exhibited in over 70 group and solo exhibitions.
She has lectured about her work, been an artist-in-residence and given workshops in the US and Japan. She speaks English, Japanese and French.