.0320 Italian Story 1978

Rags, cut, sewn, compacted.  8″x5″x4 1/2”. Collection of the Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University. 

Exhibited at the Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, D.C., 1984.

This piece is seminal–a precursor– foreshadowing many of the themes I continue to address and return to:
saving, re-use, record keeping, journaling with materials, autobiography. “Italian Story” is made from bits of fabric that had already been used when I discovered and purchased them in a store on Via Santa Reparata in Florence, Italy in 1974 or 75. This unusual store was located a few doors down from the Santa Reparata Printmaking Studio where I was first introduced to the exciting medium of etching. In what felt like an un imaginable juxtapostion, this “store” was also located steps away from “The Last Supper,”1445-1450– by Andrea del Castagno –a dramatic and powerful work that impressed itself on my memory (accessed through a door on Via Ventisette Aprile at the corner with Santa Reparata) I was on a tight budget and had never been much of a shopper, but I looked through these piles(small hills!) of rags and chose the ones that reminded me most of the colors of the Tuscan landscape that was unlike anything I’d ever seen prior. I had grown up in a (nondescript)Chicago suburb. In Florence I had entered a thrilling stage of my artistic development. I was also fortunate to be on the receiving end of great unexpected encouragement and affirmation of my experimentation with less orthodox techniques and materials. I began to print on these fabric scraps, sew them together, embroider them. I started to make a quilt. Ultimately, i was unsatisfied with it visually. But it was a reflection of a lot of time, thought , and experience. It had the aura of some of my history on top of the history the rags held-the life that the fabric had before it came into my hands. Italy was my first experience of a culture older than that of the US, with visible layers of long history, In this piece I chose to layer, compress, and thereby distill this record, and reveal some mysterious sense of it by exposing the layers.

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