Art Professor's Painting's on Display in Ashford University Art Gallery

Pagnucci's Paintings Featured

“Visualizing Memories,” featuring the liquid latex enamel paintings of Ashford University art professor Anna Pagnucci will be on display in the university’s Cortona Art Gallery through February 5. An artist reception will be held Saturday, Feb. 5 from 4-6 p.m. in the recently remodeled gallery.

“I am an immigrant’s daughter,” said Pagnucci, an Ashford University faculty member since August 2010; she is also director of the university’s art gallery. “My father was born in a small village in the mountains of Tuscany but became an English professor and published poet. My brothers and I grew up in rural Wisconsin, yet always aware of our Italian heritage as our family had many relatives who spoke and ate mostly Italian. My painting comes out of this Italian-American heritage.

“My non-figurative works represent abstract concepts like mood, personality, and complex familial relationships,” continued the artist, who paints large format street scenes.  “I initially choose colors or forms that symbolically represent the character or characters I am exploring.  I try to show the feeling of a person, the quality of their moods, the very private and personal aspects of who they are through the visceral application of liquefied paint.”

Pagnucci earned her bachelor’s degree in art, summa cum laude, with a minor in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Her master’s degree in art history, which focused on Baroque, Italian Renaissance, Gothic architecture, and photography, and resulted in a published thesis on Velazquez, is from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her master of fine arts is in painting and drawing from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Pagnucci’s artwork is part of various private and public collections, including The Racine Art Museum, We-Energies, the Kenosha Care Center, Platinum Design and Development, Haskris, and the Hayward Memorial Hospital.

“I was working non-figuratively when I was commissioned to do a painting of the small Italian village where my father was born,” she said. “As a non-figurative painter who focused on character and spirit, how was I to do such a painting? My patron wanted a painting in my style but with a somewhat actual and tangible representation. I decided to work from a non-figurative underpainting but with roughed in buildings that showed some local color and general perspective. What emerged still touched on character and spirit but gave an added sense of place, and my work moved in a new direction almost without volition.

“The piece and those that have followed evoke an impression as if I sifted shapes and colors through a memory sieve,” she continued. “The works touch on memories and transport the viewer to other places where he has been or she has wanted to go or he remembers vaguely. I use light to create mystery, drawing the viewer into and among the buildings and streets. The environment is intriguing making one curious about what is going on behind the windows, hidden in doorways, or happening around the next corner.

“I don’t strive to fool with elaborate illusion, but rather try to touch some elemental memory that helps us all find our sense of place,” added Pagnucci. “The pieces are an invitation into a world we know deeply, if only we can just remember that place at the edge of our consciousness, and thus be freed from it.”

The Cortona Art Gallery is located on the second floor of Ashford University’s Clare Hall at 400 North Bluff Boulevard in Clinton. The Gallery is named for Sister Cortona Phelan, OSF, former president of Mount St. Clare College (MSC) and former president of the Sisters of St. Francis.  For many years, Sister Cortona influenced the quality of education at the College through her teaching of American history and her love of the arts.  She also served as MSC Academy Principal and as Dean of Students at the College.

The Gallery is open to the public, free of charge, every weekday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and for private showings by appointment. For further information, please call 563.242.4023.


About Ashford University

Founded in 1918, Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools ( The University offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs online and at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. The University is known for its high quality yet highly affordable online and on-campus programs. For more information, please visit or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.