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Maria Exhibition in Assisi, Italy

michael binkley assisi italy maria guido dettoni della grazia

Michelle and I discovered a delightful sculpture exhibition while we were visiting Assisi, Italy this spring. It was in the little church, Santa Maria della Rose, just across the street from our rented apartment. The work is by Italian sculptor, Guido Dettoni della Grazia and is titled “Maria.”

Guido’s inspiration came from the subconscious as he formed clay in his hands. A small figure, robed and decidedly female was the result – the image of Maria, mother of Christ. He then copied this image 33 times in as many different types of wood and mounted each sculpture on a circular base and thence inside a tall glass tube with a single downlight above each sculpture. The tubes are arranged in a circle and imbedded in trough of earth in the shape of the Greek letter Omega and the tops are secured to a steel structure suspended from the ceiling and in the shape of the Greek letter Alpha. Each of the small sculptures is in a different attitude, so all angles of the same image can be enjoyed. In the centre of the circle is a small table with several resin copies of the small figure sculpture that viewers can pick up and hold.

michael binkley sculpture guido dittero della grazia assisi italy

Facing the opening to the Omega on a cream coloured marble pedestal is a large, blue marble version of Maria, and is strategically lit.

The exhibition is steeped in symbolism. The earth is fertility, the glass is light, the 33 woods are the years Maria’s son, Christ was upon the Earth, and she exists between the Alpha and the Omega. As one looks at each small sculpture, or as one walks around the marble version, one can see the various stages of Maria’s life – she kneels to receive the Annunciation, she carries a water vessel to the well, she is pregnant with Christ (see the shadow cast in the image below left) and finally, she cradles Christ in her arm.

michael binkley sculpture maria assisi italy guido dettoni della grazia

There were two more sculptures in the exhibition – one small white marble, titled “Resurrection,” and a large wood sculpture (above right), titled “Tao Cross.” This last piece ingeniously combines the traditional Tao cross with Christ crucified upon it in very subtle relief.

We felt it a very simple, yet powerful exhibition of sculpture. This is a short video by Guido about the exhibition.

Comments: 2

  • July 30, 2015
    reply

    Hi Michael, one of these days I have got to get to Italy, especially for the Venice Biennale. As artists it is our work to make the old new again. Della Grazia has done this in his installation: “Maria”.

    He has captured the years of Christ’s life as a mother would live them, one at a time. Her life is honoured alongside of her Son’s. Like the traditional stations of the cross, this sculpture exhibition becomes a contemplative walk, a spiritual meditation on both of their lives from a unique perspective. The process of creating such a complex sculpture may have been a work of devotion for the artist somewhat like the works of Antoni Gaudi who designed the Sagrida Familia church. Thank you for bringing this work to our attention.

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