Iconic Woman: Ara Feducia
We’re starting our irō series with interdisciplinary artist, UH Manoa lecturer and Creative Director for Nella Media Group, Ara Feducia. When she walks into the shop, Ara immediately has a imperturbable vibe- unique, confident, and bad ass in the most artistic sense. She’s giving us an introduction to herself before we even speak, and I think, that’s it- that’s style. We watch her peruse through the racks, putting together outfits we’ve asked her to style herself in, and within minutes, she emerges from the dressing room looking so completely Ara that we feel like we know her. It’s in this self awareness, confidence, copacetic ease that intrigues us and we ask her to tell us more. In the interview below, Ara gives us insight into her growth and progression through art, music, culture, and style. Welcome Ara.
Can you give us a little intro to yourself?
My name is Ara and I’m the creative director for NMG Network also known as Nella Media Group. At the UH Manoa Manoa Art Department, I often lecture Design, Typography, and Production classes on the 200, 300 and 400 levels. Spring 2019, I’m scheduled to lecture Art 265 - Intro to Design. Music and curating arts and culture type of happenings are some of the things that motivate my demiurgic ways of seeing and making meaning.
How have your cultural roots cultivated your sense of style, your career direction, your creative spirit?
My background is in the music scene in Chinatown since 2001. I learned from an early start to clock in hours to do the leg work. Curating events during this timeline, I often worked the door, did my own sound, and often figured out ways to produce an event with a small budget. This DIY culture taught me a lot about how young people define and inspire community. I think people invested in a “scene” for a long time will agree in this statement: there were always more arts and music events that welcomed all ages in my early mid twenties. An example of that creative collective is: Unity Crayons (a local non profit organization), founded by Josh Hancock. He’s one of those key people that created music events, and art shows for young people to express themselves and still around doing the same.
Working in the club/live music culture opened opportunities for me to meet people like my NMG publisher/founder, Jason Cutinella in the mid 2000srv. I met Jason when he was promoting events and naturally we’ve been working together since then. It’s really important for me to build these long term relationships with the people I work and break bread with.
Describe your personal style-tell us about what influences your style. What really impacts your style, your choice of designers, how you shop? What’s been the evolution of your style?
Music and film have been the driving force of my style. Depending on what movie or album I was into, that’s the look I carried. It’s funny because I think I’ve experimented with a lot of looks. I was a huge fan of TLC and Aaliyah in high school so I totally dressed like that: hat to the back, pants real low. When I was 17-22, I was really into Siouxie and the Banshees and being goth, so lots of black and messy eye shadow. At 23-26, I was into the whole Portland, SF vibe, so lots of skirts and sweaters. At that time I was really into Godard, and Amelie, so the bangs and French film styles were my rage. After 35, I think started becoming more conscious about what I wore and became more thoughtful about the difference between fast fashion vs making the best of what you have and investing on key pieces that I resonate with on a different level.
What’s an important takeaway as a female creative?
I’ve always defined myself as a feminist; demanding to have the same standing as my male counterparts. Over time, in my personal opinion, I’ve realized that feminism is an evolution beyond trying to achieve the same male dominance. Obviously, equality is important but the infinite power in the feminine and the understanding of the uniqueness of that embodiment is beyond what a man can achieve.
What are some core concepts of visual art that you try to instill in students that take your lecture?
There is an essay by Jeanette Witnerson titled, “Art Objects” that I think I think is an excellent starting point for any one interested in the the visual world.
“If we sharpened our sensibilities, it is not that we would all agree on everything, or that we would suddenly feel the same things in front of the same pictures (or when reading the same book), but rather that our debates and deliberations would come out of genuine aesthetic considerations and not politics, prejudice and fashion… And our hearts? Art is aerobic.”
Ways of seeing the world in its infinite chaos is a key point of view when we are talking about semiotics and how meaning is formed. Meaning is relative to context and when we start engaging the world with infant like eyes, we begin a conversation of art and design as a tool for problem solving and innovation.
Tell us what community means to you. How does it influence your work?
Community for me is an evolution away from tribalism and ego. This is key for me. The art and music community in Honolulu is absolutely inspiring. As a group of visual and meaning makers, we are at the precipice of change. Young people now have an opportunity to redefine what Hawai‘i stands for. We can can create an industry beyond tourism, beyond real estate. We can use art and music as tools to meet this apex. This apex of change and growth inspires how I design, how I work with mainland clients, and the type of art I dream of making in the future.
What’s your definition of success and happiness?
This perception is truly relative. I am here now and so therefore I am. But, in my utopia, happiness and success is being able to carry one thought process for one life time rather than living different thought processes over and over again.