P A O L A   P R E S T I N I


Composer + Co-Founder of VisionIntoArt

Creative Director of National Sawdust

New York City


Photography by Phil Knott

Photography by Phil Knott

I. This year is the creative explosion of many of these different avenues of my life and my brain and my heart. Productions at BAM, LA Phil and the Walker Arts Center have been beautiful, but I feel prepared because many of the works were four or five years in development.

II. Intuition informs my work. That’s one of the really hard things to trust in myself is this little instinctive power. I tend to not meditate tremendously on decisions, I tend to trust decisions I make so that I can move swiftly and so that I can accomplish the enormity that’s on my plate at the moment.

III. The thing is that you have to always keep in touch with what your values system is and why you’re doing things, and as long as that resonates true, I think that it’s very possible to find some strength to get up every day.

IV. We must act on education in schools and education in the community and a sense of activism on the government’s part, but also on the artist’s part to make change, to find ways to fully integrate the arts into the fabric of our society. There are many people who are doing that, there are artists that are practicing it. A thing I look for in an artist is optimism, obviously talent, and complete control of your craft and specific voice more than anything. Also a mix of entrepreneurial strengths, activism, and a desire to educate. If you don’t have any of those properties, I find it very troubling because it means that you’re going to be completely practicing in a vacuum.

V. I plant seeds very early, so there’s not necessarily something I’m thinking of that I haven’t done. When it hits me, I do it. So one of the things is creating a bridge right now with Africa, and that’s something I’m really excited by and creating a bridge with different countries. Some of the seed we’re planting and that we’re working on is a cross culture bridge with Norway, a cross culture bridge with South Africa, a cross culture bridge with Zimbabwe and slowly as we get to know different artists it opens different doors. So I believe in that kind of very organic evolution of ideas, and I think it’s super important for us here in America to have a cultural bridge to other countries, and to understand each other artistically, grow from each other’s practice, and open up dialogue because I think that helps a general understanding.

VI. When I was younger, I really wanted people to tell me how they did it, and I very quickly realized that none of it really mattered. I often like to think about a story that I read, John Cage’s Silence, about a young man who goes to study for the Suzuki master. Every day he goes to him and the Suzuki master says no no, come back, I can’t see you now, and so he goes back, and he cleans his house, and he sweeps his leaves, and he does this repeatedly throughout a certain course of time, and finally at the end of the year, he goes and says thank you master, you’ve taught me so much.

VII. I am for listening to your inner guide.