Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Italy Workshop
May 2010

I ventured to Cortona Italy three years ago to do some art workshops with Archangelo Productions.

Little did I know that in May 2010 I would be teaching one there myself.

So I asked myself, why would someone want to come to Cortona to do a workshop with me?
What would make my workshop enticing when there are so many all over Italy?

Well, it was difficult to answer but I decided to throw myself into a project that encompasses all the aspects of my classes and my Visual Anthologies™ that my students, time and again , seem to want to learn.

This workshop has links to that first workshop I took as a student... as you will soon find out...

and will be no real surprise to me or you, if you read my blogs regularly.

One fine day I stumbled on this book, the story of which you can find in this post.

That book took me on a long and very deep journey.

The journey landed me in 17th Century Venice, amongst other places and times.

Four seperate Visual Anthologies have noe come from it.

I found and discovered four amazing women who I had barely heard of.

They were women of amazing fortitude, foresight who had great strength and courage.

Leaders of their time, I focused on one of them for this workshop.

“Seeking Sara”: An Evidence Based Mixed Media Art Journey
Cortona Italy 2010

Throwing myself deep into research I discovered Sara Coppio Sullam.

Who was she?

Sara, it has been said, was a beautiful, intelligent, musically gifted Jewess, born into a highly educated and prominent family in Venice.

There are no images of her. But it is said that she was blonde – hence the reason these covers were chosen for this project.

Hers is a tale of high romance and drama.

It involves her relationship with a famous Monk, a well known literary writer and poet of the same time.

It involves her relationship with a famous Rabbi and also well known for his writings and plays.

It involves the issues of living life in the first Ghetto ever created.

A Monk and a Rabbi both seperately writing a play and a poem entitled “Ester”.

Both connected to Sara.

Her story becomes a fascinating and exhilarating journey into the life and times of a “woman of letters” mingling and mixing with the greatest Italian literary giants of her time in her Literary Salon.

Hers is a tale of jealousy, famous poets and poetry and of “men of letters” all mingling amongst the backdrop of Renaissance Italy where women in general were kept in seclusion and to engage in serious literary exchanges of intellectual views was discouraged as they were seen as less virtuous than the men of the time.

Today she is seen as a pioneer in the literary arena.

But enough said for now.

The journal above is one that I created or upcycled as one component for this workshop for whilst in Italy it will be where I will document my evidence of Sara and my hunt for her.

Created from two discarded (not by me) cover boards from a Victorian photo album, I hand-sewed the many signatures to make the book-block.

It had to be the correct size - not so easy, believe me, to fit the cover and back as the absolutely beautiful brass clasp was still attached. Yaah.

Then I had to find the correct kid leathers to match or at least come close in order to reattach a new spine where there was no spine.

Into the spine went a page from a book, bought at the Arezzo flea market 3 years ago. Did I know how relevant this book would become?

Ahh yes the flea markets - amazing, the whole town comes out with their wares.

Stacey has coordinated the workshop to coincide with the once a month famous Arezzo Antique markets - day two - off we go.

I am already excited wondering what amazing things I will find for who knows what project.

The book by Salomon Fiorentino, a famous Jewish Poet living around the same time period as Sara in Arezzo. Who would have known that picking up and buying only this book – having no understanding of what it was about – would link up to Sara.

Stay with me folks....

I know, yet again!
The serendipity of it all.
But I am loving it.

Then there was this find whilst just about to bind the spine.
Found on a Sydney Street, dumped on the side of the road.

A Haggadah used during our Passover Seder.

The inscription inside reads: “Le Yehudit, 1947”
The inscription inside translates to : To Judy, 1947

A torn page of this Haggadah spoke of the 4 types of answers to the question posed during the Passover Seder: Why is this night different from all other nights?

I chose to insert the torn text with the answer from the Chacham, the Wise one.


Because as we will discover over the course of the time leading up to my Italy workshop, Sara had to muster all her wits to answer a charge that she took to the Legal Courts in Italy.

Then I placed my signature within the spine directly on the paper for who knows who will find this book one day and wonder who did this, who does it belong to?

That is how I sign my books, hidden deep within the book somewhere.

All the evidence will be placed in this book and the other components I have made up for this workshop.

Naturally whoever comes won't be doing their book and evidence journal and pieces about Sara.

You will decide what yours is about - and learn all the techniques applied to build such a major piece. As you will see soon, there are many components to this workshop so you will have to keep following to find out what is involved.

Next post on this topic will cover what the Evidence Mixed media piece will look like, what techniques will be learned within the workshop etc.

To be continued….
And thanks for staying with me on this post!



Kim said...

As always you are such a tease! But we love it so:) The piece looks fascinating and for some reason (which I can't put my finger on, yet) your Sara is familiar.(I used to belong to a medieval group and this particular century, although strictly speaking renaissance, was a fav with our lot particularly Italy so I'm off to dig around now and try to work it out!)Isn't it wonderful the way some things just leap into our laps at the right time, looking forward to so much more of course!

Leslie said...

You've done a wonderful job of restoring this album, Judy, and I think it's perfect for Sara.

I was already fascinated with your story, but got goosebumps when I read the part about finding the Haggadah inscribed 'To Judy.'

What a workshop this will be!


Vicki's Bit-o-earth said...

Judy, I stumbled across your blog and was enraptured with this project. I can't wait to read about the outcome! A trip to Italy has been a dream of mine for many years, but alas the cost has not been within my grasp... yet. Maybe one day still... Thank you, and I had no problem following this whole post. Wonderful~

Julie H said...

I am sure that this will be a positively life changing experience for everyone who attends.

stregata said...

How awesome - your story, the book, Sara, the workshop. Thank goodness it will be continued - I haven't read enough yet (probably never will). Beautiful work!!

Karen Owen said...

The amount of thought, artistry and time you put into your works is truly amazing. I love how you take us on the journey with you.

Judith said...

Astonishing, as always! You did an incredible job with the spine, Judy. As a bookbinder, I recognize the challenge; great choices!

HeArt Collective said...

ooooh fascinating... what a cliff hanger!

can't wait to see what more you have in store for your students!


Jen Crossley said...

What an amazing class to go to, can I go as your goffer.Looks amazing,as I always say some people dont realise how much work is involved in your pieces, a hell of alot of work
to your credit

Seth said...

Another fascinating story that you have taken to another level. Just love the idea of your signature, hidden away somewhere inside. I am imagining somebody discovering it far into the future...and perhaps creating their own story about just who this Judy might be!

Marie-Aimée said...

it's absolutely gorgeous

Beth said...

Another unfolding story that I can't wait to hear! The book is so beautiful with just the signatures and spine completed...

Kim Logan said... I'm!!!!

Robyn said...

Each book you create is like an adventure. The searching, the history, the serendipitous discoveries, the hidden signatures.....just wonderful!

Dale said...

wow this looks so fantastic! I really love all the thought you put into these books. It is fascinating to see your process here. Great work.

Judy said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone - much appreciated.
It certainly is proving to be an exciting piece.

Kim said...

"to Judy , 1947'
love it. You know someone's keeping an eye on you , don't you? Several someone's , as this isn't the first time that sort of thing has happened!
Have fun in Italy - wish I could snack my way through the entire country , lol.

Lani Gerity said...

gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!!!!

I just blogged this blog and gave you a KreativBlogger award.

Which you may pass on to five more bloggers if you like!

Thank you Judy for all you do!

Judy Wise said...

Another thought provoking post. As you described Sara I thought that she sounded a lot like you and I thought that on some interior level artists are always searching for and creating themselves in their work.

My moment of goosebumps came when I read the inscription to "Yehudit" and you said that it was the Hebrew word for Judy. My mother (picture limited education, midwestern, protestant farm girl) called me "Yehudi" as a nickname when I was growing up. I wonder how she knew to call me that - where it came from. She is gone now so I can't ask her. As you know her paternal origins were lost in the orphanage she was born in ...

life is strange and saturated in mystery.

Utterly gorgeous, intelligent work as always, Judy. You do take it to a very high level. xo

Karen Cole said...

Inspiring. You are the "woman of the book". Really sorry you didn't teach this LAST year. Ahhh well, you never know where our karma will take us, right Yehudit?

Is this book cover where I think it's from?

Anonymous said...

Oh Judy this is so intriging! I love how you write and I don't think it is a coincidence it was inscribed "To Judy"! Thank you so much for sharing so much. You always inspire me.

Chrisy said...

This is wonderful and I need to revisit with a cup of coffee and some time...I don't want to miss anything!

azirca said...

You never fail to amaze!
Absolutely fascinating and beautiful.

rochambeau said...

It's exciting that you will be teaching in Cortona Judy!!

Your book about Sara is a creative subject matter. It's interesting to connect the dots of how artist are inspired. Also, th Cover of your book is fantastically beautiful. It suits and depicts well all you shared about Sara.


Was I supposed to fill out that questionnaire on facebook? If so, I couldn't figure out how to.
Really happy to know about Tim Tams!! Sound YUM

Efrat Dalton said...

This is absolutely a beautiful and inspiring journal. I love how it's connecting you to Sara and probably will connect you and Sara to the person in the future. I believe things happened for a reason and if we pay close attention the blessings and the answer will reveille themselves to us one day. I wish I could be there in Italy to take your class. I spend my money for the year already I'm in Israel now. Love how your work has a connection to Judaism. I can't wait to hear more about this project.

Ro Bruhn said...

There are probably lots of stories out in the universe just waiting for you to come along. You certainly have a gift in telling and finding them. I look forward to the continuing journey.

A bird in the hand said...

I got stuck on the Haggadah "dumped on the road...." I found that a bit shocking but then thought that maybe it accidentally fell out of someone's bag... (have to be positive).

Anyway, since life works in mysterious ways, I believe it was meant for you to find. xoxo

kelsey said...

I absolutely love the book cover that "found you" for this piece, which is sure to be another wonderful, indepth and thought provoking story book.

After all the blood sweat and tears you put into your productions, calling it just a "book" doesn't seem to do it enough justice. It's like they have a life of their own and deserve to be noticed! Trust me, notice, people will!!!

Judy said...

Thanks so much everyone - your comments are appreciated and I enjoy hearing the different aspects that you all take from reading about this piece.

Hi Colette, it really was dumped on the side of the road - it was dump day - so there were plenty of book and other sorts of rubbish to grab. sounds awful I know but I can't leave a jewish book behind. besides which it is forbidden in Judaism.

Any Holy book such as this has to be disposed of properly- that means by burial as it has G-ds name in it.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the project.

Elizabeth said...

Beyond fascinating.
I lived in Italy 1972-5 and it is still dear to my heart.
I love what you are doing with mixed media and history and melding it all to make something new and exciting.
Greetings from New York.

TheEccentricLady said...

Judy, After coming across your blog several months ago and reading the story behind the restored book with the metal corners I decided to pick
The People of the Book for my Book Club choice next month. Then when I was catching up with your blog what did I find but a page from a Haggadah! You are so inspiring. I kept thinking of you and your books as I read The People of the Book and the restoration lady. I can't wait to hear more about your story of Sara!

Robin said...

I was leaving a book store not long ago and happened across a page in the parking lot. It seemed to be from a large comparative religion book... I still have it sitting on my table, waiting for it to guide me to where it needs to go.

You inspire me to make books. I have many bits of stories, but none with an ending. Perhaps I should just begin and see where it goes....

Thank you!

Barbe Saint John/ Saints and Sinners® said...

while i have always admired and loved the bookmaking work of others,its not something I've ever wanted to do myself...until now.

WOw! I now have to sit down & see what I can do to make a trip to Cortona happen.

twisted angel said...

It was worth all the hard work you put into it. You managed to project the same antique atmosphere and the glory that rightfully belonged to it. I wish I would be fortunate enough to find one of your books. they're real treasures to keep.

Renee said...

What an incredible blog you have.

Renee xoxo