Many artists struggle to find their voice. And then there are others who emerge fully formed with an innate identity that takes over their craft and spills onto their canvas. Tori Mitas-Campisi is the latter. Her latest work featuring dogs, patterns and other compositions explode with optimism, color and “happy.” Her voice sings through the oil paints she uses, and her life—good, bad, quirky and messy—underlies every piece and pattern she paints, adding an unexpected sophistication to otherwise simple topics. Her work reveals a significant command of her craft and the ability to intimately connect with her audience.
A New Mexican girl who grew up in Albuquerque, TORi always engaged in some sort of creative activity growing up, but did not take her art seriously until she moved to Taos, New Mexico in her late twenties. She explains, “My creativity and sense of humor was always was in me. I loved building things. I loved textiles, patterns, colorful clothes and power tools. But growing up with humble means, it was more of an expression, not a reality for a living. So I put myself through college to get a ‘real job’ in international relations. I was going to be an important diplomat that traveled the world.” Even through these studious times, color, patterns and impulsiveness seeped into her life, taking shape in the form of building and painting. “The world was so open, I thought I could do anything. Living in such an unusually diverse community, I connected with people from all facets of life. I loved listening to their stories and would study the colors they wore, the life they lived and how they would express themselves. I looked at it as a social experiment to tap into people.” This became an important asset in creating her art. “Ultimately, I want people to look at my art and smile, to find one part of their life within my painting that they, too, could relate to. I want my art to have a point of contact.”
After her studies at the University of New Mexico, TORi moved to Aspen, Colorado where she met her husband, Mark. A few years later, the two moved again, back to TORi’s prior home of Taos. There, she began custom sewing, which led to other design work, which turned into furniture design and painting, which turned into a line of pottery, which turned into tinwork and designing doors to match the pottery and furniture. This exploration was everything. “I was intrigued by our need in humanity to make our surroundings beautiful.” She designed and merchandised a line of furniture and hand-painted placemats for a café in Ranchos de Taos that ended up being a very successful venture for both parties. Then, she took her first oil painting class and immediately fell in love with it.