A life in color!

On a rainy, gray November afternoon we reach the heart of Val d’Orcia, Montalcino. In Via Spagni 57 Carlotta Parisi, a young and extrovert artisan with a strong desire to do and to leave a mark through her art, is expecting us.

Martina Giusti

The door to her atelier opens and, once inside, you forget everything that is outside. A positive energy envelops this place and anyone entering it. A colored, fairytale world made of paper sculptures and illustrations, of colors and magic whistles.

Carlotta likes to define herself as an artisan, not an artist. She adores refining the gestures of the technique typical of the way craftsmen work. She surrounds herself with paper, glue and wire and with these materials creates pieces using the papier-mâché technique, bathing pieces of newspaper in the glue and then using them to cover the wire support structure of her figures. Her paper sculptures are really special; they all have that something extra. Maybe because she uses a universal language, the language of fairy tales, that brings back innate memories and conjures up moments of childhood. Or maybe because the bright colors and rounded forms of her sculptures burst with joy and cheer.

A second-generation artist, she has inherited the ability to observe and the love for doing from her father Annibale. And that’s why she has always loved to create. As a child, she anxiously waited for the bell signaling the end of the school day in order to run home to the laboratory-room built by her father where she and her sisters could experiment with colors and materials and where puppets... and dreams came to life!

Following high school, she left Tuscany and moved to Milan. Here, she attended the school for editorial illustrations where she acquired an in-depth knowledge of related technical subjects - a perfect training course for her concrete and solid personality. Once out of school and with a trade under her belt, she began her career as illustrator. A blank sheet of paper and a pencil were sufficient to create magical worlds. From children’s books to invitations for event, from illustrated calendars to mascots for hotels.

But working as an illustrator was a bit limiting for her; there was a creative part inside her that was developing since she was a child. She missed material, three-dimensional “doing”, wanting to go beyond the blank sheet. At the same time, the call from her native Tuscany was becoming stronger and stronger. And it was actually by coming “home” that she was able to pursue her true vocation.

Her first opportunity came in 2006-2007 when she was invited to participate in a contemporary art exhibition in support of a classical music event near Pienza. She decided to attend by creating sculptures and not illustrations. And this is how her first paper works were born: “I musicanti di Brema” (The Town Musicians of Bremen) and “La pifferaia magica”, an entertaining feminine transposition of the classic “Pied Piper of Hamelin” accompanied by cats instead of mice. Soon afterwards, her sculptures captured the attention of a journalist from the International Herald Tribune who wrote an article on Carlotta, giving her visibility on an international level.

2011 was the year of change and recognition after years of work. In August, Bagno Vignoni – a small hamlet in the heart of Val d’Orcia, inaugurated “GRAZIE”, an exhibition featuring her paper sculptures and drawings by her father Annibale. GRAZIE as a tribute to the many female figures exhibited by the daughter-and-father team, and also GRAZIE to Val d’Orcia, a land that serves as a continuous reference point and inspiration for both. The exhibition was very successful, so much so that Arturo Brachetti’s promoter asked her to bring those very same sculptures to Rome. But for the world of the theater, Carlotta decided to undertake a new road and to work on the theme of the circus, creating spinning, twirling sculptures for the show held by the great quick-change artist from Turin entitled “Ciak si gira”. And so the “Paper Cirkus” - a success story since its debut in Rome - has toured the foyers of the most important Italian theaters, obtaining a review also by Vincenzo Mollica in his art and culture column “Do Re Ciak Gulp”.

Since that experience, success continued, one after the other, among which the attention of several RAI channels and of the press. Her paper sculptures, light in weight for the material used but at the same time solid in shape, enchant anyone passing through Montalcino, which she has made her home. Her shop – open to the world – is situated at the very top of the town, where neighbors bring her old newspapers so she can prepare her mixture and keep her company in the long summer nights while she works to finish her sculptures.

A taste of her art can be had by passing through the cloister of the museum in Montalcino and meeting Nunziatina, a name widely diffused among the great-grandmothers of the town, but that for Carlotta has become symbol of the secular and popular Annunciation. Made of paper and glue, the young life-size woman brings a message by Pope Francis. The fact that it a homage to the new Pope is perceived also by the brown ballerinas she is wearing. The words written on the book that Nunziatina holds in her hand are from a tweet that Pope Francis dedicated to the young generations: “Dear young people, do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you. Do not be afraid to dream of great things”. And it is in these words that Carlotta has recognized her course in life.

Foundational was the meeting with Alberto Cavallini, maestro, poet and fischiettajo (whistle maker), who recently passed away and whom she remembers as a maestro of life. Thanks to him, Carlotta has enhanced the magic of her sculptures by adding colorful whistles made of clay.

Carlotta Parisi is a volcano bubbling with ideas, colors and creativity. Her artistic activity has gone from creating T-shirts and original souvenirs for Montalcino to sculptures that bear important messages. Her life is a book illustrated with an infinite number of brightly colored pages. *

Follow Carlotta Parisi on www.carlottaparisi.it

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