Collaborative Work > Collaborations with Mario Laplante

Mario Laplante and I had an artist residency at the Dedalo Italian Residency 2010 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---the area called Abruzzo. It is relatively 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. Some places were just eventually abandoned if the rebuilding was too daunting. Of course, there were many other factors, like urbanization, emigration and wars, but, to be sure, the 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. Our 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 amendments. The embellishments of these structures, found at the center of their communities 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, but united by tradition and culture. That is, Abruzzese culture and human culture.

The images made during and inspired by this residency follow...