In February 2013 I had the pleasure of being part of Takt Kunstprojektraum artist-in-residence (AIR) program in Berlin. The winter residency group consisted of 10 international artists including myself. The AIR participants engaged in a wide range of media and research, which included sculpture, bricolage, photography, painting, video and anthropological studio visits. We lived and worked in studios in the Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg East side neighborhoods. Our group exhibition, Colligere, was held at Kunstraum Tapir and was curated by Paola Bonino. Bonino incorporated many of the diverse styles of the resident’s work into a collective exhibition that both united and also honored individual forms of expression. A few of the artists also held additional exhibitions and readings in other Berlin spaces during their residency. The residents also received weekly critiques from Isabel Manalo, who is represented by Addison/Ripley and is also the director and founder of The Studio Visit. The program directors, Antje Görner and Bernhard Haas, were very resourceful and kind. They provided opportunities for residents to meet with others in the Berlin contemporary art community and organized social and educational events for us to attend. Antje and Bernhard were also very helpful with mundane requests (like needing a hammer for my grommets or finding Oblaten for my 90 year neighbor back home).

Laura Di Piazza_02

This silver lining needs refining (in collaboration with Hugh Rennison) * Berlin * 2013 * Handwritten quotation, gouache, wire, card * 59,4 cm x 42 cm

quote: “The only joy in the world is to begin. It is beautiful to live because living is to begin again in every moment.” – Cesare Pavese

Laura Di Piazza_01

Bewusstsein * White River Junction, Vermont, USA * 2013 * Vinyl, paper, ink, wood and metal * 147,32 cm x 59,69 cm

exhibition copy by Paola Bonino:

Bewusstsein consists of discarded handwritten notes collected by the artist for about three years. They are primarily to-do lists from places she has been to recently. As a calligrapher, Di Piazza is concerned about the practice of penmanship, which is fading in our modern digitized world. However, these thrown-out notes indicate that people are still writing, even for seemly unimportant things. After collecting them, Di Piazza bound these lost pieces together with thread. In the resulting work, the artist combines two different elements – the concept of Bewusstsein (awareness) and discarded to-do lists – in order to highlight their contrast in terms of our mental-state of time. It is hard, in fact, to be in a state of awareness during our daily lives, when we are preoccupied with thoughts of the before and worries of the thereafter. The to-do lists, often created for remembering the most mundane chores, are focused on accomplishing tasks in the near future. Perhaps they are chores we want to forget but become a nuisance when we do. Do we create these to-do lists because we hope we will later be in such a state of Bewusstsein (awareness in the present) that will we likely forget the things we must do? The piece was also created using a vinyl garment bag whose function is to be ‘suspended’, thereby serving its primary purpose of protecting a garment. The garment bag was chosen to emphasize that time is suspended too when we are in the present state of Bewusstsein.

Calligraphy by Laura Di PiazzaPhotograph by Jakob OttCalligraphy by
Laura Di Piazza
Photograph by
Jakob Ott

Gardarev Residency

The following work was created at The Gardarev Center‘s artist-in-residence program held at The Meeting Point in Boston, Massachusetts in December 2012. The three sculptures are in honor of victims of intimate partner violence. Many thanks to Toni Lester and Dr. AndreA Macsis for their guidance and support.

Going Where?, 2012, metal and wood, 15" x 11" x 12"
Going Where?, 2012, metal and wood, 15″ x 11″ x 12″
Not Here Now, 2012, metal, transparency paper and textiles, 30" x 60" x 22"
Not Here Now, 2012, metal, transparency paper and textiles, 30″ x 60″ x 22″
Contained, 2012, wood, glass, paper and textile, 48" x 20" x 6"
Contained, 2012, wood, glass, paper and textile,
48″ x 20″ x 6″

A Wedding Affair

Thank you WellWed Magazine & Vermont Vows for inviting me to The Wedding Affairs on 11/10/12 as guest calligrapher held at Shelburne Farms.

Adam Blue: AstroExplorer – A Guide to the Heavens

Main Street Museum, White River Junction, Vermont  |  through November 18

Review by Laura Di Piazza

Adam Blue’s current exhibition AstroExplorer – A Guide to the Heavens, at the Main Street Museum, takes us through three distinct spheres.  “Constellations for the New Millennium”, which consists of 84 drawings and text pieces, provides concise and sometimes blunt discourse on current environmental, political and social issues, as well as pop culture. Its range is wide; from the garbage dump epidemic in the Pacific Ocean to easily accessible online porn. Sprinkled within the commentary of our times is what I view as the ‘consolations’ of the constellations in the form of horoscopes. I was born under the sign of the Predator Drone. When things do not go well for the Predator Drone, AstroExplorer’s horoscope wisely advises: “never you mind, you can always take refuge in the Pringles and Mountain Dew that feed your soul”. (WoW, it’s like that was written just for me.)

In this series Blue also juxtaposes contrasting features. For example Goth Fairies is a drawing of a levitating fairy in Dominatrix style attire, with crop in hand, and angelic wings.

Not all is fun and games, there’s also serious commentary on social injustice.  As seen in ‘There’s Margin$ in the Marginalized”.

In this series Blue accurately depicts, in an uncensored manner, the tone of our current and common form of modern-day information consumption: “sound-bites”.

The next series in this exhibition is called “How the White Cube Hangs Once the Gallery Has Closed”, which is a photographic collection of site-specific journeys of the White Cube.  If the “Constellations for the New Millennium” is like the WiFi in the home then “How the White Cube Hangs Once the Gallery Has Closed” must surely be the balcony. Here, the moment calls for reflection and space. The traveling minimalist White Cube becomes part of the landscape by being a participant within a site, however still it may appear. The White Cube makes observations that we may ourselves ponder, like when in the produce section of the supermarket: “Eating organic whenever you can is important.”

Raking leaves can be totally zen.

The final series is a collection of 12 finely executed gouache drawings that unfold like riddles. This series reminds me of the coziness of bedtime stories and the vast inner-space those words can hurl me into.  In this case Blue’s paintings sends my imagination running and questioning. Will Artificial Intelligence one-day wonder, “Who am I”? Does our internal forces no longer shield itself within powerful symbols but instead hides itself within sugary snacks? Why is that monkey swinging with a cell phone in his hand? Is he too distracted by the ever-shifting monkey-mind that plagues my sleep before important meetings/events the following day? I wonder.

Adam Blue is the Education Director at AVA Gallery and Art Center, a nonprofit community art center in Lebanon, NH and is an art editor of The Whitefish Review, a semi-annual, nonprofit, literary and arts journal.

Internationale Sommerakademie – Salzburg

I spent most of August 2012 in Hallein, Austria in Manfred Pernice‘s O Tannenbaum course at the Internationale Sommerakademie (SOAK). O Tannenbaum and several other SOAK courses were held in the historic and impressive Alte Saline building, which once processed salt that was mined locally. It was an eventful 3 weeks attending exhibition openings, lectures and Mittagsgespräche (lunch talks), meeting people from all corners of the global at the Alte Saline and at the Festung Hohensalzburg (the other SOAK location in Salzburg) and also experimenting with found and re-purposed materials for the course. In some ways we had Christmas in August in Pernice’s O Tannenbaum course. Pernice invited us to consider the Christmas tree, and the adornment of it, and how it’s transformation might inform our own sculptural project.

To get into the holiday spirit teacher’s assistants Noële Ody and Cäcilia Brown asked us to create gifts. Above is a gift I created and it was randomly received in a round of musical chairs, where everyone had a seat when the music stopped.

Before going 3-dimensional, I contemplated certain feelings, sounds and images one might experience during the holiday season by playing with words and their placement or rearrangement.

“Ein guter Gesang wischt den Staub vom herzen” – Christoph Lehmann 1576-1638 ” A good song wipes the dust from the heart”

I was fortunate to locate found objects quickly (wheel and microphone stand) at Hallein’s recycling center, that later became Outside Woman. Below is an image of Outside Woman before it became a part of the collective works on the Intimate Violence project.

Many thanks to Vesko Gösel for creating the red chaotic spiral piece pictured below, which was included in the final installation.

Final IV project exhibited at the Alte Saline, August 2012.

Not Here

Inside Woman – Floor Woman – Inside Woman

My Human Being

Review by Laura Di Piazza

Conceptual artist Rebecca Weisman inserts herself into the landscape of her art in My Human Being, which is currently on exhibit at the Julian Scott Gallery, Johnson State College, in Vermont until March 10th. With 3 simple words, My Human Being, Weisman investigates our changing environment and how one tries to both capture and let go of time and one’s own placement within it. This multi-media installation engages viewers with film imagery that have been 5 years in the making.  The installation encompasses a 5 channel surround sound score that includes white noise, recorded speech and the sound of water dripping onto a microphone. The sounds include a wide range from natural to artificial. Gallery director Leila Bandar finds that “there is a visceral quality to the sound element — a drip, drip, drip, the repetitive clacking, the whale-song sound of syllables stretched”. Bandar asks “What do we see when we hear a drip?”.
Time is a central element that Weisman records, observes, engages with and disrupts with the construction and dissolving of her inscription, My Human Being, made by using the landscapes available raw materials, her body and shovels. Inside the gallery space a fast motion loop filmed in the spring, summer and fall shows the artist creating, on nature’s canvas,  that which can not be preserved. Through these seasons the inscription’s transformations are many, as the letterforms dance with the environmental forces that move upon, around and eventually through them. The installation also includes an outdoor component of My Human Being in winter that, at night, is projected onto a snow wall sculpture that was constructed by Weisman and Johnson State students.  The snow wall also serves as a chronological monument that will gradually melt over time, thereby erasing the projection itself. Through out the exhibit the artist will continue to carve words into a gallery wall and then project back their recordings. Weisman uses the exhibition time and space itself to continue the dialogue of change and reflection.
I personally experienced that My Human Being invited contemplation on how I feel about the passage of time, especially how I stand and move within it, and my responses to time when I am not actively engaged with it but am simply remembering. Ultimately what resonated with me most about this installation are my questions about how I feel and deal with ‘change’ itself.

Cold Harvest

Some recent work…

Laura Di Piazza, Fence, 2011, mixed media 12″ x 24″
Laura Di Piazza, Bunny Says, 2011, mixed media, 27″ x 23.5″
Laura Di Piazza, untitled, 2011, ink and acrylic paint on paper, 14″ x 17″

Laura Di Piazza, Goodbye, 2011, sumi ink on paper, 14″ x 17″
laura Di Piazza, In A Moment, 2011, mixed media, 16″ x 20″
Laura Di Piazza, My Beloved Pain, 2011, acrylic paint, sumi ink, gouache and paper on canvas, 20″ x 24″

Spencerian Script Workshop

Please join me this Thursday 12/8 for a free introductory workshop on Spencerian script at the Kilton Library (80 Main Street, West Lebanon, NH), 6 to 8pm. Supplies will be provided. E-mail, L.dipiazza(at)yahoo (dot)com to reserve a seat.

P.R. Spencer (1800-1864): creator of Spencerian Penmanship

Le Havre – Vermont International Film Fest

As published on Thread.

Movie Review: Le Havre

By Laura Di Piazza, for Thread Magazine

When you don’t exist, where are you?

Le Havre, written and directed by Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, takes place in the French port town of the title name, where Marcel (André Wilms) lives in the margins of society struggling to make ends meet. Marcel is a shoeshiner who brings home his small earnings to his loving wife Arletty (Kati Outinen) who is, unbeknownst to him, ill. On what appears to be an ordinary day during his lunch break Marcel encounters a young and frightened boy, an illegal immigrant caught in a media frenzy for his capture, named Idrissa (Blondin Miguel). Marcel, poor in funds but rich in heart, assists Idrissa in reuniting him with his family.

While Arletty is soon after admitted to the hospital and demands that Marcel gives her space and time to heal, Marcel begins his work in helping Idrissa. Allies present themselves in unexpected places. The captivating Jean-Pierre Darroussin (also featured at Cannes in the 2011 film Les Neiges Du Kilimandjaro), plays the outwardly cold criminal Inspector Monet, who quietly expresses that “I am ruthless toward crime, but I don’t like to see the innocent suffer.”

Director Kaurismäki brilliantly weaves many outsider characters to unite in the effort of doing what’s right in the face of the faceless machines of immigration laws and the misguided media. Kaurismäki does not mask age at all and artistically expresses the characters’ depth and beauty by giving the camera time to take in their essence. Kaurismäki also incorporates the outsider elements subtly, through a song on vinyl (Stateboro Blues) and literature read out loud (Kafka). Perhaps most strikingly captured in Le Havre, is how each person appears to be fully aware and engaged. From the common task of wrapping a package to determining another human being’s fate, all is done with full concentration.

Another observation of departing from mainstream is how Kaurismäki plays with time in regards to fashion. From Idrissa’s Cosby-like 80’s sweater, to Atletty’s special yellow 50’s dress to Inspector Monet’s head to toe black clothing with 70’s wide collars, no one is trendy here (thank heavens). Also refreshing and pleasing to the eye is the stunning work of cinematographer Timo Salminen who reveals rich hues and expresses crisp depth perception. The cinematography has a retro-like quality and cohesion to it that can remind one of the continuity of music on vinyl records as opposed to the divisions of digital recordings.

The twists and turns of Le Havre are undoubtedly as engaging as getting lost in a new and fascinating city. Kaurismäki turns challenges, like how to raise $3000 Euros quickly for Idrissa’s passage to London, into comical opportunities. The featured ‘trendy charity concert’ is not to be missed. And again it is the not-so-trendy, the otherness, which takes center stage.

One may liken this story to a fairy tale, however if it is believed that most people are good at heart then it is rather a reflection of everyday people following their conscience.

Le Havre was produced by Finnish company Sputnik Oy with co-producers in France and Germany. The film was award the FIPRESCI prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and is Finland’s foreign language Oscar nominee.

Le Havre is featured in the 2011 Vermont International Film Fest.