Shortly after finding out she’d been selected as the winner of a scholarship to an Italian art school, Kristin Fiorvanti said the opportunity was “definitely a door opening for me.”
The 2018 Laurel Ridge graduate has since flung that door wide open. She continues to live, work, study and thrive in Italy where she is a multimedia artist and student. Fiorvanti is months away from earning her bachelor’s degree and her art is about to be featured in Create! Magazine.
A graduate of Washington High School in Charles Town, W.Va. – although she attended Skyline High School in Warren County for two years – Fiorvanti had long dreamed of visiting Italy and of being an artist, but was afraid that wasn’t a viable career option.
Several months before graduating from Laurel Ridge with her general studies degree, Fiorvanti saw a flyer her art professor, Marion Mercer, had put up in the Sekel Art Atrium on the Middletown Campus. It was for Accademia Riaci’s International Arts & Design Competition, which would provide free tuition to a seven-month course at the school in Florence, Italy.
Fiorvanti submitted several paintings and drawings, and to her excitement, won. Thanks to the Ann Currie Art Scholarship, her $4,000 enrollment fee was covered.
A middle school field trip to the college is what first inspired Fiorvanti to attend Laurel Ridge. She liked that it was close to home.
“I ended up loving it – everyone was so really kind,” Fiorvanti said. “I loved the campus. There was so much to do and so many events – I wasn’t expecting all of that from a community college.”
And, the help she received from the college’s Veterans Center as the dependent of a veteran was really appreciated.
“[Military benefits official] Sharon Painter was not only a huge help, but also one of my biggest cheerleaders,” said Fiorvanti.
Fiorvanti used her father’s veteran’s benefits – he retired as a chief master sergeant with the West Virginia Air National Guard a few years ago – to attend Laurel Ridge. She is also using his benefits to finish her bachelor’s degree in media studies and communications at John Cabot University, an American university in Rome.
At John Cabot, Fiorvanti is active in student government, serving as the senate representative for the Art and Design Department. She is graduating this spring.
Fiorvanti’s work, “Life Story,” was part of John Cabot’s group exhibition last spring, and she has also participated in collaborative group shows, panel discussions and workshops in Rome. Even during the pandemic – which she spent in Italy – Fiorvanti continued to create, displaying her work in online exhibitions and on social media.
“Since moving to Italy, I’ve found joy teaching English to kids in my spare time,” said Fiorvanti. “I currently work as an internship coordinator and production designer in a start-up film company called So Fare Films, and it’s been a great platform for building teamwork and creative skills. We’re launching several documentaries and a feature film, all of which emphasize religious and ethnic diversity and representation.
“After graduation I’ll be taking a year to travel and work remotely with the company while I plan for my master’s degree. At the moment, I’m considering universities across Europe to advance my skills and hopefully find work as an art director or professor of fine art.”
You can keep up with Fiorvanit’s art and visual media on her blog at kfiorvanti.com.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.