A Mixed Perspective: Artist Ann Marie Amico

“Making is my motivation,” said creative guru Ann Marie Amico.

The process of creating forms the bridge that connects every aspect of Amico’s body of work, which includes mixed media artistry, brand design and community leadership.

“I come from makers — everybody in my family got a different degree in college, but they’ve all come back to art as they’ve gotten older,” she said.

Amico, who lives in Fuquay-Varina, started her professional career as a special education teacher, before going back to school for commercial art and design when her two children were in elementary school. After graduating from Johnston County Community College, Amico started her own graphic design company. 

“I learned everything you shouldn’t do,” she says. “In a small town, people didn’t really know what to do with a graphic designer.” 

Professional development became vital to growing Amico Brand Design, and joining organizations like the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, the Women Business Owners Network in Cary, the Raleigh Professional Women’s Forum and the Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce proved to be hugely valuable. 

While building her graphic design business, Amico continued to pursue fine arts education, taking a pivotal class in mixed media collage. 

“I moved from realism to abstraction then, and I haven’t really looked back.” 

Mixed media art combines a variety of materials — acrylic paint, paper, pastel, ink, natural stone, vintage objects — to create an image or form. 

“I love contrast and color, and I think that’s why I like mixed media so much,” Amico said. “And my family is my base, so I want to do things that celebrate family and heritage and culture on the wall and on the body as well.” 

Amico creates abstract portraits using found objects and keepsakes that represent elements from a person’s life. 

“When I (create a portrait) for the person, they know I’ve got these elements that are important to them that are worked into the piece,” she said. 

Amico also crafts mixed media jewelry that pairs natural and semiprecious stones with vintage pieces into one-of-a-kind wearable art. 

“As an artist, you are trying to find how I can say this differently,” she said. “How can I reflect something of somebody’s personality with these stones or this piece of ephemera from their past?” 

While Amico’s artistic career has ebbed and flowed as her life as an entrepreneur, wife, mother, and now grandmother, has evolved, the artistic principles learned early on create a connection throughout all of her work. 

“In design, line and form are really important, as are rhythm and contrast. All those kinds of things that you learn to be a designer are really important. And they show up in the same way you lead your eye around a painting or the same way you make a rhythm in a necklace, so it all hangs together,” she said. 

A resident of Fuquay-Varina for 33 years, Amico says fostering the arts is vital for growing communities, not merely for the success of creative individuals, but for the health of the town as a whole. 

“Communities that support artists are vibrant and sustainable, because they are open to new ideas, and they celebrate people that are diverse,” she said. “The arts are a really effective way of having people of different backgrounds communicate with each other and find points of connection.

“If you think of arts as a bigger thing than just music or dance or painting, if you think of it as a community of makers, you’ve created a place that people want to come and enjoy.”

This article originally appeared in Main & Broad magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *