Dear Art Lover,|
One of the largest fears I have had while in Italy was that I would not be able to continue my work as a sculptor. That changed this summer and as usual, with the help of many others. I feel very fortunate.
Stone carving symposiums are held throughout the world. They offer an economical way for a community to create or add to a public sculpture collection, as well as allowing artists to earn a living and benefit from travel and cultural experiences. Basically, a group within a community gets together and organizes the event.
The host provides housing and meals for the artists, as well as some sort of payment (this is to cover travel expenses and also living expenses, since an artist still maintains a house somewhere). The host also provides all of the stone, transportation of the stone (cranes or tractors), electrical and air power (compressor plus hoses) as they can for each artist’s carving site (with the artists notified of this before travel arrangements are finalized), carving sites (tables, umbrellas, … the location), marketing, and often some sort of ceremony at the end.
Artists bring most of the tools they will use themselves, esp. those not provided by the hosts. Some symposiums ask artists to create a maquette (‘bozzetto’ in Italian, a smaller piece or drawing to show someone else one’s idea) to apply for a space. Generally, symposiums chose artists based on the work (quality and variety for their collection) and also the country. It is more interesting to have a diversified group. In fact, my late friend and mentor Vasily Fedorouk, who had dual citizenship in his birth home Ukraine, as well as his adopted USA, told me that he was more often promoted as a Ukrainian artist than an American one. He was just more exotic that way. Ha.
The first time I heard of these sorts of symposiums was when Vasily went to Brazil for one month in 2002. He carved a huge block of marble about 10 x 6 x 6 feet: Two figures and an asteroid. I asked him how an artist of his stature could afford to “give away” a sculpture of that size for only $3000. He replied, “Because I do not buy or move the stone, I do not have to try to move it and sell it later. I have my art in a new country and do not spend money to live or work in a new place. Receiving enough to pay for my flight and mortgage makes this possible.” It did not hurt that he was such an amazing artist that he finished his project in three weeks and spent the last one on the beach (“I met Miss Brazil there!” haha, everyone loves a celebrity).
The host community can work to recoup some of its expenses with good planning and promotion. Tourists are invited to watch the sculptures as they are being created (but oh, bring those ear plugs!), speak with the artists when they take a break, and enjoy the sculpture garden after the event. A community can often receive TV, radio, and newspaper coverage for such a unique cultural experience. Hotels and restaurants obviously benefit, but other businesses do as well.
Most of these symposiums happen every two years because it takes a lot of work to create a great event.
I was invited to my very first professional stone carving symposium because of a series of introductions from one Italian friend to a new one, and then a new one, and another...
My first symposium occurred in Castelvecchio, in Tuscany, directly north of Pescia, as the crow flies. If you were to “Google” it, you must zoom in quite close before it even shows up. This area of the mountains is called Valleriana and consists of small, charming towns, many reaching back to the Medieval days.
I asked to invite my street painting and marble carving friend Kumiko Suzuki to come with me. We were given a small two-bedroom stone house to ourselves. This symposium, titled "Castelvecchinpietra.2013: Scolpire la Pietra in Valleriana" with the subtitle: "Simposio Internazionale di Scultura della Pietra Serena" and was held 24 July through 4 August 2013. The Artistic Director was Silvio Viola, a sculptor who moved to Castelvecchio in 2008 and created this series of symposia for his new village. This was the fourth simposium for Castelvecchio.
Sculptors involved were: Vera Bauer & Anne Flore (German installation artists who live in Vellano, Italy, where "our" quarry is), yours truly (Kelly Borsheim, American living in Italy), Natthapon Muangkliang (Thailand), Ivan Paraskov (Bulgaria), Pavel Petras (The Slovak Republic), Giuseppe Strano Spitu (Italian living in Spain) and Kumiko Suzuki (Japanese living in Italy).
If you are interested in seeing some live action, please watch this video on YouTube: