Prior to heading out on an Italian Art Adventure this March 2015 with a group of 19 aspiring artists, I had mentioned to our group that Italy has a way of consistently delivering magical moments of inspiration and delight, along with many ideas for contemplation. Fortunately, this trip was no exception, offering up a myriad of moments where we all felt incredibly moved and fortunate to be alive and creating.
While enjoying the last rays of golden light hitting the undulating landscape surrounding the hillside town of Pienza in Tuscany, myself and three of my art teaching colleagues were eves-dropping on 3 men engrossed in conversation. The flow of their dialogue was interrupted when 4 of our students arrived to marvel at the scene that was unfolding. Feeling compelled to explain who we were, I mentioned to one of the gentlemen who sat astride his bike holding a cane that we were a group of artists from Canada. Before I knew it we were all invited back to the studio and home of renowned artist Emo Formichi, escorted there by his friends while he sped ahead on his bike. Emo is 88 years old and so filled with life and love that it’s palpable.
For the next hour and a half we were delighted and awestruck by the rare inventiveness of this amazing artist who seems to do it all. While best known for his unique sculptural works incorporating recycled materials as varied as old car parts and motorcycles pieces through to scrap metal, cutlery and old lighting fixtures; he also creates drawings, paintings, and the most exquisite furniture. When we learned that he had also designed his home and carved the immense wooden banisters that graced the staircase we were not surprised.
While studying one of his award-winning cabinets and the intricate pattern of inlaid woods, he mentioned that someone had once asked him how many hours it took to create the piece. His response was, “Non ho il tempo per misurare il tempo.” – “I don’t have the time to measure time.” Besides his immense hospitality and artistic genius, Emo’s gifts to us that day were his words of wisdom. He encouraged us to find our passion and give ourselves fully to it. He said that lack of knowledge or skill should never be an excuse not to pursue excellence. He told us to work everyday on what we love.
When finally our group left after much laughter and hugs all around, we were all inspired and raring to start creating ourselves. Is it any wonder so many artists and creators have sought time in Italy?