About Verona Fonté
Verona Fonté, is currently the Executive Director of Iris Arts. She is skilled in digital media arts and production, she is an positive mentor to emerging digital artists, and she provides socially relevant, nonprofit projects with digital media products including websites, digital videos and other graphic design products.
Verona Fonté, Ph.D. worked as a psychologist for over twenty years in academic, clinical and organizational settings. She had a private practice for over 20 years and was Academic Dean at the Saybrook Institute, from 1979 to 1982, during which time she helped establish the beginnings of the managed care programs, organizational trauma teams and consulted with organizations.
In 1994, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Olympia Institute, Verona participated in a conference focusing on the impact of war trauma in Dagestan, a region of the Soviet Union in the Caucasus. A Russian cinematographer who was filming this event, mentored her first efforts in filmmaking. While in Dagestan, they met and filmed some major political players during the run-up to the region’s first democratic elections. One day the cinematographer told Verona his story about when he refused to go into the military and was then hospitalized and medicated under the Soviet regime. Hearing this story was a turning point for Verona. She decided she could no longer just listen to people’s traumatic life experiences in confidentiality as a psychologist. Rather she wanted to be part of the group who helped get important narratives out into the world. The dynamics of diversity and the tension of potential violence in post Soviet, pre-democratic Dagestan (still a region of Russia) inspired her to make her first film “The Peaceful Warrior”.
Soon after the publication of this film, she decided to share her skills and talents with not-for-profit NGO’s and work only on socially relevant media, educational and artistic products. In 1997, Verona was elected to the Board of Directors of the Iris Arts & Education Group, a 501 (c) 3, to help forward their mission to produce and support socially relevant media projects.
Verona continued her work as psychologist, by uniquely showing the effects of trauma and peace through several short films including, “We Must Not Forget the Children” for Balkans YouthLink 1997, about the crisis in Kosova; also working on a trailer for the feature length film, “Children of War” with Kim Shelton, about the experiences of children from the war in former Yugoslavia; and “Quest for Justice,” about the plight of more than 100,000 Korean Comfort Women.
While Executive Director of Iris Arts, Verona has made two films for the Ansel Adams Gallery and she has begun developing innovative techniques to display paintings and animations in shortform media, which are at once visually stunning, as well as psychologically, politically or spiritually relevant.
In addition, through Iris Arts she has contributed to other socially relevant projects, building websites for non-profit organizations, consulting with organizations about their digital presence on the internet and training youth leaders in developing the digital media skills necessary to become change-makers and present their visions and stories to the world.
Verona worked in Costa Rica from 2007 to 2014 through Iris Arts with the nonprofit, Voz Propria Foundation and it’s Director, Guadalupe Urbina, providing digital media products to support Voz Propia in its mission. Voz Propia has a history of starting local programs which then spread throughout Costa Rica and Central America. Verona helped Voz Propia develop a public platform enabling: 1) Sustainable social programs with socially challenged children, 2) Ongoing work with the social programs in conjunction with the co-operative Long Mai Sonador in San Isidro, Costa Rica.
From 2014 to 2019 Verona began pursueing her own work in digital media based around the community developing digital media at Berkeley City College focusing on photograpy and animation. Several socially relevant series of images were developed through Iris at this time such as "Escape From Fire: The Migrant Crisis of the 21st Century". Images from this series were donated to organizations working with displaced migrants for fund raising purposes. Another series was "The Gravity of Today; Visions for Tomorrow" focusing on the climate crisit . This seris grew into a show at the San Francisco Public Library for all members of the BCC Digital Media Collective in 2018 during Govenor Brown's International Climate Crisis meeting.
In 2019 and 2020 Verona traveled to Havana, Cuba and began working with a trio of Cuban artists. Initially through Iris Arts, Verona developed a project with Jose Gonzalez and Victor Mora producing an animation about the Afro-Cuban Yoruba Creation Myth using the images from paintings by Victor Mora in the hopes this would enter the library of global creation myths. Then Iris Arts co-sponsored an unusual fashion show in Havana in early 2020 called "Post Identity" with fashion designer Rafa Suar and about 20 artists from around the world. Each invited artist decorated the fashions of Rafa. Verona was also one of the artists whose design went on one of Rafa dresses. The show was one of a kind in that this concept was completely new.
In 2020 Iris collaborated and was fiscal sponsor for a collective of digital media artists creating Get Out The Vote animations and public service announcement for the 2020 Presidential elections. That done Iris Arts wants to focus on creating art that can be useful for education and information purposes around the theme of the climate crisis.