We've made it to the final installment of Marcello's Journey - an interview hosted by Professor Giovanni Fiorentino (Director of the Mediterranean Center of Environmental Education - CMEA) in which artisan and artist Marcello Aversa shares his story with us.
Passion, courage, and conviction: signposts on the path that Marcello traveled to become the world renowned sculptor that he is today. He was guided by his trust in nature and the beauty that humans are capable of creating when working in harmony with it.
In Part 3, Marcello shares his vision for safeguarding a vibrant future for artisanship. It's marked by openness and sharing. It's guided by an appreciation for the very thing that surrounds us no matter where we are: nature.
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Prof. Giovanni Fiorentino (GF):
What’s the timeline of your workflow? Is it true that it echoes nature’s timing, like agrarian processes that coincided with the changing seasons?
Marcello Aversa (MA):
I need to take my time in order to be satisfied with my sculptures. After shaping them, I dry them: each sculpture is covered with a glass dome that is gradually lifted over the course of a few days to ensure that the clay dries evenly without cracking. I follow the progress of each sculpture for days, even months for more complicated pieces. When it’s finally dry, I place the sculpture in an oven for a few days at a low temperature to avoid drying it out completely. When I open that oven, and everything went well, I’m compensated for the hard work and patience that went into it!
The same thing goes for farmers that don’t take shortcuts. The Earth and its bounty articulate the rhythm of our lives. At one time, we anxiously awaited the summer to eat a watermelon, the winter to eat tangerines, and the springtime to taste a cherry. The Neapolitan crèche even has 12 characters that represent the 12 months of the year.
Today, we are no longer forced to wait. We can have what we want, when we want it, and we are convinced that this convenience does not have an impact on our happiness. Adults and children hurry to buy things that the globalized world imposes upon them; sometimes we have a hard time understanding if we really want these things, or if we want to emulate those who have them. The funny thing is that, once we have them, we become their slaves rather than their masters. Modern devices have improved our quality of life; but we risk losing many basic aspects of our culture like human interaction and storytelling.
You mentioned Peninsulart. What is it? What are its goals?
Peninsulart is a cultural association open to everyone – especially to artisans. Its goal is to pass on traditional artisanal crafts that risk extinction.
All too often, petty motives like jealousy ensure that artisans’ tombs become the vault of their secrets. In the past, this has led to the disappearance of many traditional crafts. Peninsulart’s goal is to turn the tide on this trend and create venues for sharing tricks of the trade with younger generations.
Sometimes, I feel discouraged when I see that young people are not exposed to artisanship so as to develop a passion for it; but when I see the excitement in the eyes of children that touch clay for the first time, hope is restored in me!
The situation that we find ourselves in is the fault of my own generation. We conceived a world without points of reference that is increasingly selfish and inconsiderate, where everything is expected to be perfect, but without sacrifice; where employees are encouraged to seek hand-outs rather than hard work. . . the old-fashioned way.
How can we rectify the situation?
With new ideas.
Once in the midst of a conversation about projects for local artisans, Mayor Cuomo (the Mayor of Sorrento) told me, “Marcello, we want to help you, but we need your ideas.”
Alda Merini once said, “I love the simplicity that accompanies humility.” I truly appreciated the Mayor’s words, especially because it came from a politician that evidently appreciates the importance of being humble in order to solve a problem.
As adults we also need to hear ideas from young people. Francesco de Gregorio used to sing, “we are history.” Better yet, we make history, and so will the young people. My hope is that when this happens, they don’t make our same mistakes. My dream is that future generations make history by working together to solve problems.
To go back to our conversation about nature, lets hope that the younger generations love it as much as the Little Prince loved his planet, and that they take care of it just like he took care of his rose; lets hope that they maintain our culture and traditions.
The Earth is the most beautiful gift we ever received. She never betrayed us. Lets not let her down, lets protect her for those that will come after us. Lets live with her in the present, thinking about the future, never forgetting her past.
Ph: Marcello Aversa
Translated by Salvatore Ambrosino