Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Spiritual Lasagna" - Work and life of Gemma Taccogna in the documentary by Evie Elman

It doesn't matter what you create. It's that you're living with principle, you're living with passion, with honor, and you have a visual statement of your bravery.
Gemma Taccogna
I can't remember if in all these years I ever talked on my blog about other artists, maybe just sometimes of dear collagues and friends: when your work is that of a "one man band", as I like to define it, you don't have so much time left to dedicate to what is not yours. This time I'll make an exception to talk about the work of an artist who in some manners inspired and encouraged me in the tortuous ways of my project.

I knew of Gemma Taccogna's artistic work since 2007, exactly in those months in which CartEssenza project was seeing its birth and my personal research on papier maché technique was at its dawn. That was not an easy period for my project: I had left suddendly my university studies and I started to search for a new path to follow, and almost all those who were around me were astounded with my substantial program change. However I was feeling that there was something more deep in my decision, that my sudden turn was going to transform not only my daily occupation, but my entire style of life, and so (luckily) I didn't change my mind.

It was in this period and state of mind that, surfing the web in search of information on papier maché technique, I ran into Gemma Taccogna: I was literally amazed when I saw her works, so perfect to seem porcelain and at the same time so incredibily eloquent to talk without problems with eyes and heart of everyone about beauty, life, sun and strength.

Then I read her story, the one of a person who, really young, began her artistic way and she never stopped, until death: Gemma Taccogna was born in Bari, here in Italy, in 1923, and then she moved to America. In the late 40s and in 50s her works were already famous and sold in California, then she moved to Mexico where she opened her own art atelier and her works have been collected by great and famous people, such as Peggy Guggenheim. When she saw her works copied and reproduced she decided to close her atelier and to return to the USA, where she began to create even jewels and tiles. She has been for all her life, quoting the definition by her grandchild Evie, "a tireless teacher, fearless mother, passionate grandmother, dear friend, mentor and certified prankster". She left us in 2007, a few months after my discovery and way before I had the courage to contact her.

I think it was 2008 when I came in touch, via MySpace, with her grandchild Evie Elman, who was managing Gemma's official channel on the social network.
Evie and I started to exchange some messages and I was really surprised by the kindness and openness with which she talked to me: she was from the beginning incredibly friendly. Unfortunately my english at that time was really bad and so comunication possibilities were definitely limited. However she talked to me of her project, the documentary "Spiritual Lasagna", based on life, work and ideas of Gemma Taccogna. Then MySpace started its decline and so for some years unfortunately we lost contacts.
Despite of this, I never forgot this experience: Gemma Taccogna's work and story remained always as a vivid example for my project, and Evie's kindness and willingness reminded me in every moment that to have a gift doesn't mean to close to who is around us.
Around two weeks ago, since I restarted to work to CartEssenza seriously, suddenly I had in mind Evie and her project: from years I was not having news, but I would have liked to know how it went and to write about it on my blog. I searched for her contact and wrote her a mail to ask for news; when she replied me I found that once again life times of life were created in a perfect mechanism, since she was working exactly in those days to the opening of the new site and to the official presentation of "Spiritual Lasagna" documentary. And so, this is why I'm talking you about this now :)

Evie carried on, on her grandmother's request, Gemma Taccogna's artistic way: she continues the creation of her marvellous busts and she teaches folk art and papier maché in workshops in schools.

Now I share with you the links to see the "Spiritual Lasagna" documentary and to know better Evie's project :)

About Spiritual Lasagna
Gemma Taccogna's MySpace
Spiritual Lasagna Documentary

Photo credits:
Leggi il post in italiano!

1 comment:

  1. A long time ago I had the immense privilege of having Gemma Taccogna as my art teacher at the American High School in Mexico City. She undeservedly invited me later to be part of a group that helped her make papier-mache props for a play in the theatre. Gemma was an artist, a great teacher of art and life, an idealist and the most generous person I ever met.


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