Neo-Pop artist Romero Britto visited campus Friday to discuss his experience as a Brazilian-born immigrant and artist with students in the Intensive English Program (IEP).
As part of a project about art, students in the program talked to the artist about his life and work.
Sitting in front of a projector displaying images of his endeavors, Britto listed his inspirations.
“At the end of the day … the whole world inspires me,” he said. “I surround myself with things that I like. I paint things that are positive to me.”
Some students, like Genivaldo Panzo who is in his fourth semester, were excited to see how culture affects art.
“I’m here to see Britto because I want to know the kind of art of today, and I want to know about what inspires him to do it … In Angolan art we show our culture. This is something new for me,” Panzo said.
However, others like Mohammed Hamadah, who is in his second semester in the program, were not as thrilled about the project.
“I’m not that excited because I don’t like his work, but I can appreciate it,” he said. “I think his works are all similar to each other.”
Though his work may seem similar to Hamadah, Britto believes that art should reflect personal interest even if the work’s meaning is not clear.
Discouraged about his future and the possibilities offered to him in Brazil, Britto decided to travel to Europe in 1983, ultimately landing in Miami, where he has been living for the past 27 years. He initially thought of pursuing a career in law before dedicating himself to art.
“I was about to finish my fourth semester [of law school], but I was so miserable,” he said. “My art has taken me to places I never knew about.”
Britto also works as an activist. He has donated to more than 250 charitable organizations each year, was chosen as a speaker for the arts at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, and is an inaugural founding benefactor of the Harvard International Negotiation Program.
“It’s important for everybody to participate in the community … it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “Every time I give something to someone, I have a great feeling. It’s pretty inspiring.”
In his presentation, Britto explored what art and education can do for one another.
“Art means inspiration … The more educated you are, the more you are able to understand opportunities all around you … Education can help so much a person, a community, a country. Knowledge is power,” he said.
Though he did not receive formal art training, he said he has visited many museums and surrounded himself with art and books on art history. Art education “is helpful but is not the entire picture … It’s about yourself.”
Britto encourages students to pursue their passions above all else.
“If you love something, you have to act on it,” he said. “If you want to be successful, you have to work hard.”