by Quentin McCaffrey, MFA 2011
After arriving in Italy and enjoying a week gorging on Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini and other sweet and savory treats in Rome, I rode the train north and slightly west along the intoxicating coast to Carrara-Avenza where Steve Shaheen, one of my sponsors and the sculptor who would be teaching me about stone, graciously picked me up, despite being 3 hours late (perhaps by Italian standards this was par for the course). From the first moment it was clear that Carrara was the optimal location for carving stone. The mountains, peering down on the towns cradled between their foothills and the turquoise sea, are full of marble. The quarries clamor up the mountainsides with zig-zag access roads and even burrow into the depths of the mountains, excavating the rocks in cool darkness. Along the coast area, cranes and hangar-like buildings appoint the numerous workshops where artists and artisans, devoted to the creamy marble and the forms that may emerge from it, toil in powdery dust.
I was to work in one such bottega for the next two weeks. Studio Corsanini, complete with its patriarch Luigi (freely doling out his acquired wisdom both in stone work and general life, and doubling as head-chef who prepared glorious lunches for all), Zen-master/Sculptor/Age-defier Itto Kuetani, and a colorful selection of hard working house artisans, was a brilliant place to see a wide variety of working methods and ideas in action in the realm of marble carving.