Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Sculpture to Celebrate the Planet

By Claudia Ricci

The sculpture you see here was commissioned by the Fetzer Institute as part of its Global Gathering conference held in Assisi, Italy in September. The artist is Dimitris Alithinos, of Greece. Fetzer, whose mission is to promote love and forgiveness, brought together for the Gathering an international group of scholars, artists, lawyers, health and business professionals, and governmental leaders, all of whom have been working or supporting projects that in one way or another promote love and forgiveness.

Alithinos' white marble sculpture, part of the contemporary public art exhibit arranged by Fetzer to honor the Gathering, was displayed in the Piazza del Comune, a bit of a climb up one of the cobble-stoned streets in the beautiful old city of Assisi.

The artist, born in Athens in 1945, was present in Assisi for the display. One very novel and highly-effective aspect of the sculpture: the swollen belly of the madonna-like woman in the sculpture -- which is the globe itself -- lights up, creating a particularly impressive effect at night.

Alithinos' slideshow accompanying the sculpture showed him visiting the Italian marble quarry where he carefully selected the block of Carrara marble he would use.

Fetzer's program notes indicated that the maternal body sculpted by Alithinos "expresses an unconditional maternal love, full of hope for the future and forgiveness for the past, devoted not to an individual life coming into being, but to a collectivity, humankind. The young woman is seated and absorbed in cuddling her round belly."

The artist commented: "When I see a pregnant woman, in the ugliness and harshness of the world, I think that in order to make the decision to bring a child in the world, she has probably forgiven humanity for all its sins, for all its cruelty, for all its crimes against the planet and ultimately against itself."

When I asked how he engineered the light in the sculpture's belly, he said "it was quite a challenge."

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