What a summer this has been! After exhibiting in South Carolina in May, I had a few days back home in Texas to prepare for my 6-week trip throughout Italy (more on this later). Once I returned home from overseas, I had another few days before I headed off to the stone carving symposium in Marble, Colorado. After I returned home again from 9 days of carving and dancing in the mountains, I was blessed by a bunch of friends and family who all helped me celebrate my 40th birthday on the evening of July's blue moon.
Whew! Now that the party is over, I have been working rather long hours again to try to make up for "lost" time (I really missed sculpting during my travels) and preparing for my October events. Although I went to Italia to study art and most of the photographic images I took were focused on those studies, I did end up with a few images of interest to others. Friends who have seen them encouraged me to share them with you, so if you are interested, please visit the photography section of my newly redesigned Web site:
Italia and its people were a bit overwhelming (in a good way) to me actually and I know that their influences will take time to manifest themselves in my work. If (when?) you go, I highly recommend traveling alone and learning some Italian before you go. I also greatly enjoyed the hosteling experience, but it may not be for everyone.
For the most part the Italian people were exceptionally generous to me (dinners; rides; and sharing time, information, and some wonderful conversations!) and were rather forgiving of my poor speech while encouraging me to keep trying. Some of my favorite times happened while I was out sketching or painting. People would gather around to watch. Some would ask questions about materials or comment on my unusual sense of composition. Several children completely charmed me, especially 6-year-old Gea who spent almost the entire day with me in Marina di Massa. She even asked her grandmother to braid a blue friendship bracelet for me and as she put it on my wrist during dinner, she exclaimed, "I love you, Kelly."
Above: Gea and Kelly become friends at Ostello Apuano in Marina di Massa, Italia.
The places in Italy that I enjoyed the most were the smaller towns, but that is consistent with my taste at home, too. Life feels more personal in the more pedestrian-friendly areas. Of the larger cities, Firenze (Florence) and Bologna were my favorites. I laughed a lot in Firenze, in part because before my dream trip, I had read somewhere on the Internet that an American should not discuss politics with an Italian. Yet, I met several men in Firenze (especially) who seemed to want to speak to me about American politics (especially since President Bush visited Roma on 4 June - thank God I missed that!). No small talk here. What a fun ice breaker and a wonderful learning adventure! On a personal level, visiting Italia was a humbling experience for me. Not having traveled outside of the United States since I was a child, I did not realize just how much the world watches the US and American culture. Italians (and other travelers I met) seemed to know more about my culture than
I did - and certainly more than I know about their country. I often felt rather naïve.
Bologna was a city I had not planned to visit (having no information about it), but I changed my itinerary after hearing comments from other travelers (and when my hopes of finding Caprese Michelangelo were dashed). It was in Bologna inside the Chiesa di San Domenico (Church of St. Dominic) that I found some early Michelangelo marbles that I did not remember knowing about. A priest named Tarcisio was thrilled that I was a sculptor and a teacher and gave me a personal tour of much of the art inside the church. His enthusiastic storytelling of how Michelangelo was awarded the tomb commission (as a means of avoiding a fine) truly made the journey special. I spent several hours on two different days listening to his smiling voice as he shared his knowledge of Italian art history, especially of the art in Bologna.
(This is one of the rare times that Kelly sits while she works.)
Above: Kelly painting a composition of part of a sculpture in Bologna, Italia.
Above: Kelly snuck this photo in a church in Bologna, Italia,
And a side note: Venezia for me was only magical when it rained, but I would like to visit again when I am not at the end of my journey and perhaps when there are fewer tourists. Among many other places, I was also able to visit the stone quarry towns of Carrara and Pietrasanta, as well as meet my art dealer, Cristiano Merra, in Forte dei Marmi (northwest coast of Italy, just south of the Cinqueterra coastline). He held a wonderful art reception for me at his Museo Gilardi on the 25th of June. I laughed when he had everyone sing "Volare" to me. (I made the mistake of complaining that I heard too much American music in Italy.)
because she enjoyed the combination of modern life
surrounded by old masterpieces of art.
Above: The marmo (marble) quarries of Cave Michelangelo in Carrara, Italia, dwarf the artist. Photo by Dr. Fabio Massimo Biselli.
The bottom line: I feel desperate to go back for an extended stay - 6 weeks is only enough time to scratch the surface of Italia. And so I keep studying the language.
I am very honored to be able to share with you news that two of my artworks were selected to be included in a beautiful new book by Dr. Janet Lynn Roseman. The book explores the spirituality in the dance compositions and philosophies of three choreographer-dancers Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis, and Isadora Duncan (the latter, it turns out, was also a big fan of my favorite painter Eugène Carrière).
What especially interests me about the revelations in this book is that these women understood that the body is sacred and worthy of study and exploration. As one who portrays the human form in my own art, I am constantly in awe of the Grand Design - beautiful, functional, and expressive. Janet's book has the power to make me wish I had met these women - and especially, to have seen each of them dance.
You may order your own copy of Dance Was Her Religion: The Spiritual Choreography of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Martha Graham by visiting my online bookstore at:
The Search for the Divine
for a personalized, autographed copy for you or a cherished one, please contact Janet directly at Just tell her I recommended her book to you and she will quote you on the price of the book, plus shipping (and of course, include the free inscription). This would make a great gift for anyone that loves dance or discussions about spirituality.