Autumn descends, which I could do without, honestly. I have been so busy with my new job and life changing events from all corners of my world. Then, there’s the situation in Syria to remind me that all of my problems are petty and not even worth thinking about. The government will wait to get my student loan money; I’ll figure out how to make and sell more work; I’ll get that tire on my car fixed that somehow luckily passed inspection even though there is a nail plugging the slow leak that is in it. None of these things really matter.
Sometimes I speak and hear the words coming out of my mouth and wonder who is saying them.
But, I’m really here to write a post that has been brewing in my skull for months.
What I’d like to write about is follow through and the slow progression of ideas that seem to snowball…I hope they will snowball, eventually…
When I was an undergrad, I had an Art History Professor, Bill Wolf. Mr. Wolf (who did not like to be called Dr. Wolf, as he so deserved, because he said it was more suited to people who were medical doctors…I think his father may have been a doctor, I can’t remember exactly…) was a tough grader. I took his classes over and over starting with grades of C’s and I think I got up to a B+ during my last class with him. His classes brought my grade point average down. A lot. But I didn’t care. Did I mention, he was the ONLY art history professor at Millersville while I was going there?
Modern Art History was the worst. I think he didn’t like teaching it and I certainly didn’t like learning about it. It was boring and tiresome, (and still is) except for when he talked about Cézanne. He loved Paul Cézanne and it was definitely clear in his tone when he was teaching. He also seemed to love Medieval art and on this subject he was a fabulous lecturer. There were times during his lectures in Medieval and Byzantine art history that he would build from a soft whisper to a raging bellow in making a point about a painting. The hairs on the back of my neck would stand on end as he seemed to take on the role of a priest condemning the 7 Deadly Sins or some other sort of moral code of the time or medieval women (in explanation of their life/station in that time). I always sat riveted in his classroom and usually didn’t look away for the whole three hours (not counting breaks). His classes were relaxing and fascinating and were usually the best parts of my day. He instilled in me a huge curiosity in the medieval time period, in general, and I continued to take classes in medieval history when I went on to graduate school.
These days, all of my research and learning has sadly been relegated to the internet (which I would love to remedy with trips to the Library–have to make time for it!). A few weeks ago, I came across the amazing work of the contemporary metal artist, Giovanni Corvaja. I forget where I stumbled upon his work… it could have been Facebook, or possibly Crafthaus. He makes golden fleeces, headpieces, fabric and jewelry from raw metals- gold, mostly. I was immediately struck by the work’s intense, complex simplicity. It is serious, and intricately crafted, yet simple in form and intent. It is thick with unspoken references to alchemy and beauty formed by slow, steady craftsmanship. It really relates to the Renaissance when knowledge and skill in craft was evolving and coming to a pinnacle. The Medieval aesthetic appeals to me in relation to my own work, as it feels similarly primitive. The two ages and aesthetics feel connected in my understanding of art and craft and represent a slow progression, much like what I am trying to achieve in my studio practice. There is a balance that Corvaja’s work strikes; being not too overly-processed while reaching beauty; still holding on to a delicate simplicity that is so hard to achieve while demonstrating virtuosity.
The very best thing (to me) about Corvaja’s practice is that he is extremely generous with information and images pertaining to the making of the pieces and his process. His website has a great album of beautiful process shots. I was so struck by his website that I sent out an email to thank him for what he is doing and to ask for permission to write about his work. He graciously responded with high quality photos for me to share with you here, (see below). To read his interviews on ethics and aesthetics, which I can’t recommend highly enough, you must (!) go to his website here: