What is the Officina Stamperia del Notaio?
The Officina Stamperia del Notaio is a labor of love conceived in 2013 by Alfonsina Bellomo and Serena Perrone. Alfonsina and Serena had known each other for many years prior to their collaboration on Officina Stamperia del Notaio. Alfonsina, who lives and works between Tusa and Palermo, and Serena, who is based in the United States but calls Tusa her second home and has been visiting regularly since childhood to visit her father and grandparents, finally in 2013 came to the realization that they both harbored the dream of someday creating a creative space for artists in Tusa, a town dear to them both. In 2015 they saw the inaugural season of the Officina Stamperia del Notaio in which American and Italian artists came to Tusa to conduct research, create new work and participate in retreats and workshops on site.
Alfonsina is a tireless advocate of arts and culture and has been an influential force in Tusa, with various initiatives and projects throughout the years that have served to honor and preserve the architecture, oral history, and cultural patrimony of Tusa. In the early 2000s she created, with Daniella Tasca, a lecture and performance series called Tusa Nero su Bianco, bringing poets, scholars, journalists, storytellers and musicians to the Magazzino Notarili (the location of the current studio spaces) to present public presentations touching on the history, politics and cultural traditions of the region.
The Magazzino Notarili is an important and very old structure in the heart of the historic medieval part of Tusa, adjacent to the central piazza and Chiesa Madre. The exact origins of the structure are open to interpretation but over the centuries it has seen many uses. Once belonging to the town's notary, it was at times used as a grain and oil warehouse, and even more recently a garage for the town bus. In recent years it sat abandoned and in disrepair.
Alfonsina undertook the enormous task of repairing and restoring it to create a large multi-use venue that most recently has served as an exhibition, lecture and performance space that has hosted countless public events. In one of the storage bays beneath the venue, she has also created a beautifully appointed apartment, the Loft, which houses guests and visiting artists, who then use the main space above as a shared studio during the residency season. Work is ongoing to also restore adjoining structures to create additional live/work space and to expand the residency program.
Serena Perrone is a visual artist and professor of fine art, who's main focus lies in printmaking and works on paper. Her father was born and raised in Tusa steps away from the Officina Stamperia del Notaio in the historic part of town. Since childhood, she has spent many summers in Tusa with her father and extended family and has always considered Tusa as her second home. She often draws on her experiences in Sicily and the landscape when creating her work and wishes to share this place with artists and writers who would benefit from immersion in this environment.
She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a Master’s Degree in Printmaking, and holds a BFA in Painting, A BA in Art History and a BA in French from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Through imagery that layers and combines drawing and painting with intaglio, woodcut, lithography, silkscreen and alternative processes, she builds series of works in which different symbolic elements encounter and interact with one another in altered, fictionalized landscapes, often inspired by Tusa and the surrounding area.
She is currently the Assistant Professor Tenure Track and head of the Printmaking Department and Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Previously, she was a Visiting Critic in the Illustration Department at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Assistant Professor and head of Printmaking at Pratt Institute’s upstate New York campus, PrattMWP College of Art. She has taught printmaking, drawing and foundation studies at several institutions including Kutztown University, Tyler School of Art, Swarthmore College, the College of New Jersey and the University of Georgia’s Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy.
Perrone’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions including the Spring/Break Art Show at United Nations Plaza in New York; The Print Center in Philadelphia, List Gallery of Swarthmore College; the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Cade Tompkins Projects, Providence; the University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, and the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice. Recent group exhibitions include: the Detroit Institute of Arts; Cleveland Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the International Print Center New York; The Print Center, Philadelphia; Smith College Museum of Art; SUNY Purchase; and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, and the New York Public Library, among other public and corporate collections. She has received grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Santo Foundation, the William J. Cooper Foundation, and the Vermont Studio Center and was a Pew Fellowship nominee in 2016. Recent projects and residencies include Marianne Bernstein Projects' Due North and Due South (in Iceland and Sicily, respectively), and the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice. She is represented by Cade Tompkins Projects in Providence, Rhode Island. Her work can be seen at serenaperrone.com and printmepullyou.blogspot.com.