Yesterday we learned about Marcello's roots. All about how he made a living working from morning until night on his hands and knees shaping terracotta tiles and bricks.
Today we learn about his connection with nature and what led to his life-changing decision to abandon his family brick ovens to become an artist in the face of adversity.
It all started with an organic vision of sharing, learning and growing together. This is the story about how Marcello transformed a vision into reality.
(CLICCA QUI per la versione in ITALIANO.)
Prof. Giovanni Fiorentino (GF):
No one agrees with you, and your family tries to discourage you from this decision; but you decided to leave the factory anyway. How did you think you were going to make money?
Marcello Aversa (MA):
Actually, I encountered several obstacles that were very difficult to overcome.
First off, my family was under the impression that I should be committed to a mental institution. I chose to abandon a profitable business to venture into the unknown despite how difficult it was for me to sell my terracotta creations.
Packing my sculptures in a cardboard box, I began making frequent trips to San Gregorio Armeno in Naples, the famed neighborhood of Neapolitan crèches. Unfortunately, though, the Saint Joseph, Madonna and Baby Jesus sculptures accompanied me on my way there, as well as on my way back.
Then one day, thanks to a friend, I participated in an exhibit of Sacred Art in Pompeii. From that moment on (maybe it was the Madonna who interceded!) I began to receive invitations to participate in exhibits in Italy and abroad.
What guided you in your decision?
I believe that we are all puppets. It’s up to us to feel the vibrations of the strings moved by the puppeteer. Since I’m Christian, I believe that the puppeteer is God. This is the only way that we can expect to best carry out our role in the grand theater of life. It’s up to us to decide if we want to be protagonists, or simply be part of the chorus.
The vibrations that I felt pushed me away from the family kiln, even though it will always have a special place in my heart. In fact, I would like to realize my biggest dream in that factory by transforming it into a center of Artisanal excellence where local artisans and artists can pass down their craft to anyone that is interested, especially to young people: crafts that, together with the natural beauty and innate hospitality of our community make Sorrento so special.
This is part of the reason why I collaborated with many other local artisans to create the Associazione Peninsulart, where we organized events and exhibits for this same purpose.
In 2000, a small workshop arrives. What does a workshop mean for you? What was your inspiration? I distinctly remember my grandfather’s workshop, but when I pass in front of yours, I see a man working amidst an exhibit space…
In 2000, I took another big step: I opened a workshop in the historic center of Sorrento. For years now, I open the door to this workshop daily and enter a world where I give life to crèches that depict Sorrento’s oldest traditions: costumes, farm houses, archeological sites, plants and rituals.
More than inspiration, I had my own idea of what a workshop should be. A creative place where artisans and artists could share ideas – a place where I could grow both professionally and as a person.
Today, in my shop window, you will find the masterpieces of my friends, masters from all over Italy that come to visit often to give live demonstrations of their craft.
Next time you pass by my shop window, look closely. If you take a few minutes to look, you won’t see a man at work, but a man having fun; this is what makes me happiest.
What impact has nature had on you? On your memories? On your creativity? On your daily life?
Even if you might find it strange, a sensation that I am sure none of you have ever felt will always be part of me. For practical reasons, when we worked at the kiln, we had to walk in the dirt barefoot.
When you walk barefoot on freshly worked soil gives you the sensation that you’ve become one with the earth itself.
It’s hard to explain it in words, you’ll just have to try it out for yourself.
Translated by Salvatore P Ambrosino
Stay tuned for Part 3... Coming tomorrow.