Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Submitted by Sally Voth, PR specialist, Lord Fairfax Community College

LFCC student Kristin Fiorvanti has spent much of her life running away from her dreams of being an artist. Now, she is chasing those dreams to Florence, Italy.

The general studies student, who graduates in May, will study at Academia Riaci after winning second place in the painting and drawing category of the school’s International Arts & Design Competition. Her prize includes free tuition, although she will have to still pay an enrollment fee of nearly $4,000. The seven-month master course will begin next January.

LFCC student, Kristin, Fiorvanti, will hone her artistic skills in Florence, Italy next year.

“I have always dreamed about going to Italy,” says Fiorvanti, who attended Skyline High School in Warren County for two years, but graduated from Washington High School in Charles Town, W.Va. “My grandfather told me stories about how his grandfather came from Italy and settled here.”

She lived with her grandparents, Glenna and Richard Fiorvanti, Sr. in Charles Town for a time.

“My grandmother’s an artist,” Fiorvanti says. “She’s who got me more into painting and drawing. She has done so much for me.”

Studying Latin in high school furthered her interest in Italy, particularly its artistic treasures.

When she saw the flyer for the International Arts & Design Competition hung in the Sekel Art Atrium in Fairfax Hall by Art Professor Marion Mercer, Fiorvanti knew what she had to do.

She submitted two paintings and four drawings, all with an Italian theme. One painting incorporated her Italian heritage, by showcasing a bottle of red wine her great uncles curated 30 years ago and handmade pottery with her family name on it, holding the wooden spoons her grandmother used for spankings because “I wanted to capture Italian culture with a personal touch.”

A black and white charcoal drawing evokes a statue of a Roman woman, while a watercolor “literally and figuratively reflects the Italian atmosphere as I would interpret it” with water, gardens and chapels.

“I woke up Jan. 15 to an email saying I’d won, and I was bouncing off the walls,” Fiorvanti smiles. “There’s a lot of research I have to do, a lot of paperwork I have to fill out.”

Even though she will have to pay the enrollment fee, as well as come up with funds to support herself while in Italy, “I can’t pass up an opportunity like this,” she says.

“This is definitely a door opening for me,” Fiorvanti saysadds.

Kristin Fiorvanti designed this watercolor, entitled “Reflection,” based on how she imagined an Italian waterfront town to look.

Fiorvanti is trying to learn Italian. An app on her phone is helping her with this pursuit.

As a child, the one pursuit that could keep her occupied was coloring. While art has always been her passion, having had some turmoil in her childhood, she thought it wiser to pursue a career many would consider more practical.

But, the pull of art has been strong.

“I’ve always dreamed of being an artist,” Fiorvanti says. “I thought about becoming an art teacher because I love working with children. I’m still not completely decided.”

Fiorvanti has already experienced great tragedy. She lost her older brother to an overdose in 2016.

“He was such an inspiration to me,” she says. “He was lovely. He was the brightest spirit, always lighting up everyone’s days.”

The news of Fiorvanti’s win “stunned” Mercer.

“She is a bright, mature, personable and well-spoken young woman,” she says, “and, her artwork really is exceptional.”

Fiorvanti is attending LFCC on her father’s veteran’s benefits. Her father, Richard Fiorvanti, is a master sergeant in the W.Va. Air National Guard. Fiorvanti describes his reaction to her competition win.

“I haven’t seen him that proud in a long time,” she says. “He looked like he was about to cry – but he’s a big manly man. It’s really exciting.”

“I had heard great things about Lord Fairfax,” Fiorvanti says. “I came here in middle school on a field trip and had always remembered it. It’s close to home, and I felt it would be great for me financially to go to a community college. I ended up loving it – everyone is so kind here. I love the campus, there is so much to do here and so many events. I wasn’t expecting all of this from a community college.”

Besides her art classes with Professor Mercer, she has really enjoyed her public speaking classes with Professor Andrea Ludwick.

“I’m not very confident in that field, but Professor Ludwick is such a sweetheart,” Fiorvanti says. “She really helped me gain the confidence to speak in front of a crowd.”

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Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve about 400,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.

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