Meet Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, renowned philanthropist, entrepreneur, and art collector. Ella is the founder and president of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (“CIFO”), a non-profit organization committed to the enrichment of the arts and the support of contemporary Latin American artists. Since 2002, CIFO has granted more than $1 million to over 90 artists from Latin America, and has become a powerhouse in the Miami art scene.

Ella was born in Cuba and fled to Venezuela with her family at the age of 16. She began collecting art in the early 1970s, focusing primarily on works from Latin America. Over the years, Ella’s art collection has has grown into an ambitious lifelong project and a reflection of her belief in the importance of art in today’s societies.

Ella sat down with IVY Magazine to discuss her journey to become one of the world’s premier collectors. If we can learn to appreciate the beauty in art, Ella explains, we begin to see the beauty in our everyday lives and in the world around us.

How can we learn to appreciate the beauty of art?

Though we may not consciously recognize it, Ella notes that we are constantly attuned to the beauty in our everyday lives. The design of the newest iPhone, for instance, or of a particular couch immediately jumps out at us and impacts our relationship to the object. “Many people don’t understand that art is everywhere around you,” Ella says. “You sit at a table, and somebody designed the paints, the china, the glass, the tablecloth. If you go to an office, somebody designed your pen, the desk. Art is everywhere around you, it surrounds us everywhere. It all depends on how you see it.”

Appreciating beauty in the art in a museum, however, is less straightforward — though by no means should be intimidating. Just as everyday design is subject to a vast array of differences, so too is art. The key lies in accepting that it will take more time to learn about and appreciate art. Ella explains that the journey to appreciate the beauty in art is a learning process: we must engage with an artist’s ideas, concept, intention, and technique in order to learn fully appreciate a work of art.

Ella promises that it is a worthwhile learning process: by learning to appreciate the beauty of art, we enrich our appreciation of the beauty world at large.

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