Appreciation of Arts in Lugano --- by Hannah Rose McNeely '23


“Everything you look at in life has a drawing underneath it,” says Clarice Zadanski, head of the art department at Franklin University in Lugano. “Art is not just something we do to blow off steam or relax, art is what makes us human and makes our world a form of expression.”

What does creativity do for society? Why should society care about creativity? How do the arts benefit our lives? Art is the universal language that has the power to build bridges across oceans of difference; it helps us discover the connective threads in our human tapestry. The importance of the arts is constantly being questioned, disregarded, and taken for granted in many ways, starting with a lack of knowledge, funding, and education.

With a population of only just over 60,000, Lugano is not necessarily known for the arts, therefore artists experience a lack of visitors and tourists. The LAC, Lugano Arte e Cultura, is the leading art museum in the city and has expanded Lugano's population in the past decade by providing numerous outlets to see music, art and culture. However, local companies experienced a huge setback and adjustments in business due to COVID-19. Our world has had to adjust to a digital platform that affects museums and galleries globally.

In the past decade, Lugano’s art scene has undergone a significant shift in popularity. “Creativity is something that's really important to fulfill for everybody,” says Tecla Riva, owner of Kromya Gallery. Located in downtown Lugano, Tecla shares her experience moving from Milan to Lugano and opening her gallery in 2018. Prior to opening her gallery, she was a flight attendant for Swiss International Airlines. Her love for art birthed collecting pieces around Europe with her husband. This made Tecla understand the importance of involving arts in every person's life and used Kromya to exhibit local artists and their talents. She describes how being in between southern and northern Italy, places that are known for fashion and arts, local galleries have to constantly promote their business in order to catch tourists passing through Switzerland. Promoting was more difficult before dealing with the pandemic but since society has evolved to a digital world, we depend on technology for communication and connection with others, even if it's from home. Clarice Zadanski, the head of Franklin University's art department, also shares similar experiences after living in Milan and working in Lugano for 25 years. She has seen a tremendous rise in Lugano's art life and tries to teach her students about how prevalent art is in Switzerland. In addition, she tries to show the importance of the process that underlies creating pieces.“We have to remember what underlies art. Also, the whole part of your psyche that you use when you do draw or make something pictorial is something that we neglect. Maybe by not being able to visualize things, and by neglecting the visualization aspect, maybe we're letting parts of our humanity not develop.” According to Zadanski, a lot of her students don't explore museums and galleries that Lugano has to offer. Clarice inspires her students to attend and also takes her students on class trips. Both Tecla and Clarice agree that a world without access to creativity is a colorless environment. Arts gives society the fuel to tap into an innovative expressive mindset. Many people agree the arts and creativity is one of the most powerful educational tools we have, especially for younger generations. They both think that Generation Z holds the power for our future of arts and believe our world is becoming more innovative and expressive every year.

Lugano Arte e Cultura has played a fundamental role in expanding the Lugano arts community. According to LAC Director Michel Gagnon, “The LAC has increased the public in Lugano by 40% since the LAC opened.” Michel explains when he was designing the LAC, he not only wanted it to be an artistic project, he strived for it to be a social outlet that can connect Lugano's community. “There's so much space for young people in the arts... I think you have to follow your passion,” says Gagnon. “You don't invite yourself to be an artist, you have to want it. The LAC presents all forms of art that can attract and interact with all ages. There is no limit to what the LAC exhibits, which is one of its unique features that attracts, inspires creativity and connects Lugano's community. “Creativity is a way to develop my brain to do new things and not be afraid of doing things as well, Says Michel” With this positive mindset he created an environment that is aesthetically pleasing to be in that is educational and adventurous. Michel had to be clever and think of ways to keep people connected with the arts after facing the pandemic. He transformed the LAC into an online theater and museum with a television company which took a lot of adjusting considering that the LAC is only six years old. With this amazing production and effort, most of Lugano's community was streaming these performances and the LAC won a prize as the best digital production in Europe.

It is no surprise that artists are getting creative with new ways to build community and support themselves and others. With bumps in the road like a pandemic, businesses had to tap into an innovative side of themselves. With increased access to technology, the world found a way to keep businesses active and bring art to new audiences during this time. With access to the Covid vaccine, Lugano is slowly coming back to life with the rise of tourism and restrictions being lifted. Artists and curators will continue to promote their shows and works and raise their number of visitors. The arts have provided a platform where it has the power to move people either on an intellectual or emotional level. This form of expression is universal and helps us see the world from different perspectives. It gives us empathy and helps us understand people, places, periods of history, and issues with which we may otherwise be unfamiliar. Art is a way of communication; it allows people from different cultures and different times to communicate with each other via images, sounds, and stories. It's often a vehicle for social change and provides us with a voice. Lugano's creative community will continue to expand and fulfill people with its beauty and knowledge. It will continue to provide opportunities for people to come together, to share an experience even if they see the world in radically different ways. 

This article is part of an assortment of student-written journalistic pieces from Fall ‘21 semester’s “Issues of Journalism” course with Professor Elettra Fiumi
Learn more on this exciting project here.


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