centro per le arti contemporanee

centro per le arti contemporanee
Abruzzo is the region of Italy to which we traveled this past summer. We had an artist residency at the Dedalo Center for Contemporary Art in Castiglione a Casauria in the province of Pescara. We had both been to Italy before, but we knew nothing about this part of the country. Abruzzo is centrally located, in and around the Apennine Mountains. There are four national parks in the region and the mountains cascade down to the Adriatic Sea in the east. Vineyards, olive groves, fig trees and other agricultural delights abound. Abruzzo is peppered with hill and mountain top medieval villages, some lively and inhabited, some in ruins. The ruins, as we understand it, are largely because the area is earthquake prone. Our guide book’s text about particular churches in the region often read as follows: This church was first built in 965, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1079, rebuilt again after the earthquake of 1155, rebuilt again after the earthquake of 1302 etc. Eventually some places were abandoned if the rebuilding was too daunting. Of course, there were many other factors, such as urbanization, emigration and wars, but, to be sure, earthquakes played a strong role in people’s lives.

We settled into our residency within a few days (we were there for a month), and found a balance between work in the studio and daily explorations of the breathtaking and magical territory by which we were surrounded. Our collaboration had never drawn so directly and so immediately from our environs. Excursions each day, brought us to humble, by Rome and Florence standards, Catholic churches, with centuries-old roots, as mentioned above, and layers of renovation and architectural amendments. The embellishments of these communal structures, found at the center omario laplante and Diane Finef village life for hundreds of years, were heart-breakingly earnest. Visual poetry, intentional or otherwise, could be found at all turns. The artists and artisans that raised their rent and/or their spirits, by the work of their hands, were entirely varied in their abilities, yet united by tradition and culture. That is, Abruzzese culture and human culture.

Our work stems from this landscape of immeasurable wealth. This wealth---raw energy from centuries of living history-- became the basis of what we made with printing ink and gouache. Restored frescoes, broken stones, architectural assortments and abandoned houses, became shapes. A field of sunflowers turned our palettes towards bright greens and yellows. Marble provided a thirst for pinks. Deciding, dividing, cutting and gluing, inventing an abstraction of shapes and colors, paralleled the realm of what inspired us. Our studio practice became the boundaries of joyful days, sustained by finding open gates that revealed the symmetry of a church’s nave and a complex system of symbols that linked objects exposing their dependence on one another. For us, the new work now exhibited in Pouring Light Studio can only be understood as a specific focus that existed in a particular time and place. Our contemplation of the work in this setting, and the response of viewers, will be part of the path to our next body of images.

Diane Fine and Mario Laplante
November, 2010

Diane Fine and Mario Laplante working on their project

images are Copyright © Colleen Corradi Brannigan