Celebrating Energy and Life
Published: February 7, 2013
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It isn't called the "Bel Paese" or "The Beautiful Land" for nothing.
For many people, when they hear the word "Italy," it immediately conjures up images of fine art, ranging from the ancient world to the Renaissance right through to the present day.
From now until Saturday, March 23, the Abington Community Library, 1200 W. Grove St., is featuring its own display of Italian art in the form of two photography series by Renzo Oliva, retired Vice-Consul of Italy in Philadelphia, and a mosaic series by his wife, Juri Kim, who teaches at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.
This exhibit marks Oliva and Kim's first exhibit in northeastern Pennsylvania, even though they have visited the region several times.
"This exhibit is a wonderful occasion for us; this is a beautiful area," Kim said. "We have some ties with our experience of visiting Scranton several times through my husband's job because many Italian-Americans came from Italy to the Scranton area to become miners. We came about three or four times to Scranton for some kind of function, including St. Ubaldo Day in Jessup. We find this area to be very peaceful and very nice."
Oliva is exhibiting two series of photographs; the first is "Roma Antica/ Romantica," which is a play on words in Italian - "Roma Antica" means "Ancient Rome" and "Romantica" means "Romantic." Oliva explained that the pictures come from a cemetery in Ostia, near Rome, that had been abandoned for centuries. While visiting Italy, Oliva decided to take pictures of the cemetery, returning several times until he captured what he wanted on film. The second series of photographs is entitled "The Colors of Sicily," inspired from a trip Oliva and Kim took last summer to the island.
Oliva explained how he developed a passion for art.
"Art was part of my education," he said. "Living in Italy, in Rome, wherever you go, there is a church or a museum. At my university, I studied Russian studies but I also had to study art, even contemporary art. Even my professor, who taught Russian, had us learn everything about Russia through art as a part of our general education."
"I, personally, came to art by chance," he continued. "I was in Latvia for work and I visited different exhibits on a daily basis.
One day, I decided to start myself. First I started scrap art through recycling. Then I became lazy and bought some canvas and started painting. Then I became even more lazy and decided to use the camera to take pictures. Using the camera allowed me to manipulate the images with Photoshop. They aren't so much photographs anymore but more like a painting. They are very subjective. While photography is very realistic, I want to make it more subjective, more abstract."
For Juri Kim, however, her involvement with art began at an early age.
"I went to university in Korea for my BFA and MFA and then I went to New York University for my second Masters program and post-Masters program," she said. "In my case, I already knew that I was going to be an artist. I always wanted to be an artist. I never said I wanted to specifically be a painter or a visual artist but I was always involved with any kind of art, music, dance, theater, singing, voice... for me, I am in the environment of art."
"When I was in high school, I decided to become a painter studying visual art," she continued. "My original passion was to become an opera singer but when you become a certain age as an opera singer, you no longer perform in public. In my case, being a painter allows me to paint as long as I can hold a paint brush. I was good at visual art and I loved it. It was a natural evolution for me."