As a first generation American student, Robert Minervini has never taken for granted the opportunity to receive an education. A Clifton, New Jersey native, Minervini grew up right down the street from Montclair State’s campus. While as a kid he was intimidated by the idea of attending college, the campus’ presence in his backyard left a lasting impression on his life and is ultimately where his passion as an artist grew. He has since earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in installation and conceptual art from Montclair State and a master’s of fine arts degree from the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca, New York. He has constructed numerous sculptures for display around the world and in 2006 founded Art Emphasis Designs LLC, a New Jersey business dealing in both commercial and high-end residential metal design.
“Starting your own business is a big investment – one that takes risk. But it was Montclair State that taught me to believe in myself and encouraged me to go after my dream,” says Minervini.
Hard work and taking risks isn’t new to Minervini. His father Tony, also an artist, started their family business, Artistic Metal Works, which was a constant part of Minervini’s adolescence. Seeing firsthand the success that his father was able to achieve fuelled him to take the next step when establishing his own business. It was important to Minervini that his business focus on the artistic aspect of building. As an undergraduate student, he became heavily involved in the art design department and spent many late nights experimenting creativity with friends and classmates. In 1996 he won a sculpture competition offered by the University’s art department and created a stainless and painted steel sculpture that was installed on campus outside of Life Hall and remains standing today. That same year he had two sculptures selected to be exhibited in part with a University art show in Graz, Austria.
In March 2015, Minervini completed his latest project commemorating the 50th anniversary of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Working alongside Alabama natives Barrett Bailey and Jon Cook, the three teamed up to help the nation remember the past, by creating two original sculptures. Over the course of the past 12 months, they won a national commission from the city of Montgomery for the design and creation of the two sculptures and worked with a team of local Montgomery residents to create this project. On March 5, Montgomery held a remembrance of the Civil Rights Movement which brought in important notable leaders including several past presidents and President Obama.
Minervini’s goal has always been to pursue creating art and credits his peers and professors at Montclair State for helping him to find his way.
“If someone chooses to become an artist, they have to have courage,” he says. “I knew I didn’t want to just be an architectural metal worker, which is what I grew up doing in my dad’s business. I wanted to use my education and experiences to create a career that would allow me to fulfill my creative drive and at the same time, earn a salary and support my family.”
Now when he visits campus he enjoys seeing the growth that has taken place since he was a student and is proud to be a part of a University that he remembers as a being a small campus with big dreams.