I spent most of 2014 in Italy, first doing a long 3-month residency at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, then in Tusa, Sicily, laying the groundwork for Officina Stamperia del Notaio with my co-founder and collaborator Alfonsina Bellomo. In the fall I was based in Cortona where I was teaching drawing with the University of Georgia’s Studies Abroad Program.
The fall in Cortona was inspiring and watching the atmosphere change through a veil of plants each evening from the printmaking studio had an influence on my work. The quiet evenings in the studio reminded me of the months I spent there as a student ten years earlier. While reflecting on my future plans for Officina Stamperia del Notaio in Tusa, I came to the decision to seriously begin looking for an etching press to buy to construct a printshop component of the residency space in Tusa. I was able to learn through my fellow colleague and printmaker Sergei Tsvetkov and some contacts in Venice that a Lazzarini Firenze model press was for sale in Urbino.
After the end of the semester, I returned to Venice for a while and paid a visit to Urbino to view the press with fellow artist and collaborator Andrea Buffolo. We traveled by train and bus from Venice to Urbino via Bologna and Pesaro on a dark, foggy late November night, and upon seeing the press I decided to go ahead and make plans for the purchase and eventual delivery of the press in Tusa. In December I returned to Philadelphia and continued work on Officina Stamperia del Notaio and plans for Due South with Marianne Bernstein and Cindi Ettinger.
In May 2015 I returned to Italy and in June, after an excursion to the craters of Mount Etna my press finally arrived in Tusa. Because the resilient and tenacious ginestra is one of the first plants to take root in the rocky lava covered landscape on the slopes of Etna, and was blooming profusely across the island in that season when my press arrived, I felt Ginestra would be the perfect name for this press. Once it arrived and we placed it safely in storage, we could begin the work of turning the pollaio adjacent to the residency studio and exhibition space into a printshop and a home for Ginestra.
The construction began and I headed back to Venice to work on another small project at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica and to collect some more materials to take down to Tusa.
Traveling by train from Venice to Rome and Tarquinia to spend a few days visiting friends, we proceeded, loaded with printmaking materials tools and even acid trays, to board an overnight bus and ferry from Rome to Tusa.
Arriving in Tusa, Alfonsina and I continued to make progress on Officina Stamperia del Notaio’s little printshop, and we ran a cyanotype and alternative process photography workshop with Andrea Buffolo, welcomed Marianne Bernstein and some of the artists from Due South, and hosted an author series called Tusa Nero su Bianco. You can learn more about all of these projects by visiting those links on our main page!