The Cantor Art Gallery Presents ‘The Italian Presepe: Cultural Landscapes of the Soul’

Photographer Margot Balboni and Holy Cross professor Sarah Stanbury explore the cultural significance of the Italian presepe
August 27th, 2014 by 


Artist working in Mario Di Donfrancesco’s workshop, Cartapesta Statuary and Restoration, Lecce. Image by Margot Balboni

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross will host the exhibition “The Italian Presepe: Cultural Landscapes of the Soul.” The exhibit showcases a collaborative project by Margot Balboni, an independent curator and photographer, and Sarah Stanbury, a medievalist and the Monsignor Murray Professor in the Arts and Humanities in the English department, on an important form of Italian installation art: the nativity scene, or the “presepe.” The exhibition will be on view Sept. 3 – Dec. 17. An opening reception will be held Thursday, Sept. 18, 5 – 7 p.m.

Italians date their rich history of the presepe to 1223, when St. Francis reenacted the Nativity in Greccio. Through the centuries the presepe has developed a history deeply entwined with Italian art and culture. The Italian presepe is a vibrant form of installation art practiced all over Italy by everyone from school children to the most highly trained artists. The story is always the same, but the personal act of making a presepe continuously re-energizes the story. This exhibition, while not presuming to present the definitive statement on the Italian presepe, offers a series of encounters in three regions:  Rome, Naples and Puglia.

The exhibit will include more than 50 of Balboni’s photographs of nativity scenes from the 13th-century to today, along with photographs of artists at work in contemporary workshops in Rome, Naples, and Puglia, where the presepe has developed distinct regional styles. Each presepe, a miniature “cabinet of memory,” is a palimpsest of Italian art and culture. Balboni uses antique frames to move the images beyond documentation into memory, and has juxtaposed them with historic maps and etchings that draw out their inner themes.

The golden age of the presepe was in 18th-century Naples when the Bourbon court commissioned the great artists of the day to create startlingly realistic figures.  In addition to Balboni’s photographs, the exhibit will include 18th century presepe figures on loan from the Carnegie Museum of Art and a private collection, a selection of Piranesi prints from the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, as well materials from the Houghton Library, Harvard University, the Knights of Columbus Museum, and the Fitchburg Art Museum.

An inventive presepe set created by Barbara Craig, assistant professor of theatre at Holy Cross, with assistance from Savannah Plante ’16, will also be showcased in the exhibit. This presepe set, which brings the heart of the Italian presepe home to Holy Cross, utilizes figures summer Mellon students, Olivia Vanni ’13, Mario Leiva ’14, and Helen Tucceri ’15, acquired on a 2013 research trip.

The interest in the Italian presepe stems back to 2005, when Balboni stumbled into a room at Cosma Damiano in Rome to find a dramatic 18th-century Neapolitan presepe, crowded with elaborately clothed gesticulating figures. While Stanbury was on leave in 2011, she and Balboni began a three-year journey of research and discovery that was driven by the artists, collectors, historians and curators they met along the way.

Stanbury has been a faculty member in the English department since 1992. Her scholarship interests include Chaucer and late medieval literature, medieval visual culture, and the life and work of Margery Kempe, a 15th-century English spiritual woman and mystic.

Balboni is a cultural landscape photographer who works on independent projects and assignment. Her work has been exhibited nationally and is in many private and public collections such as the Farnsworth Museum and the Boston Athenaeum. From her work on the “Big Dig” and the transformation of Boston to her aerial alphabet of the “American Made Landscape,” Balboni has been photographing “time and place” for the past 25 years.

The Cantor Gallery is publishing an 80-page color catalogue that will include photographs by Balboni and an essay by Stanbury, and will be available for sale at the Gallery. Numerous events scheduled throughout the fall semester, including “tableaux vivants” by the theatre department and a craft demonstration by Refugee Artisans of Worcester, will be open to the public.

EVENTS

Wednesday, September 3, 10 a.m.
Exhibit opens: “The Italian Presepe: Cultural Landscapes of the Soul”

Thursday, September 18, 5 – 7 p.m.
Opening reception in the Cantor Art Gallery

Thursday, September 25, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Talk by Rachel Delphia, curator, Carnegie Mellon Art Museum, “‘Most Wonderfully Deceitful to the Eye’: The Art and History of the Neapolitan Presepe.” Co-sponsored by the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, Rehm Library

Tuesday, October 7, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Talk by curator Margot Balboni, Sarah Stanbury, Murray Professor of the Arts and Humanities at the College of the Holy Cross, “The Italian Presepe: the Inside Story,” Rehm Library

Friday, October 24, 3 – 4 p.m. and Saturday, October 25, 11 a.m. – noon
Tableaux Vivants in the Cantor Art Gallery
The Italian nativity comes to life at the Cantor Art Gallery through a “tableau vivant” theatrical presentation, featuring students enacting the presepe’s surprising mix of high and low, angels and demons, with  costumes by Holy Cross designer Kurt Hultgren.

Saturday, October 25, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Craft demonstrations by members of Refugee Artisans of Worcester, Hogan Campus Center, 1st floor
Refugees who have relocated to the U.S. from around the globe will showcase the practice of traditional crafts, brought with them from in their native countries, that they continue to produce here in Worcester as a means of support and community.

Please visit the Gallery’s website for a listing of noontime Gallery Talks.

Gallery Information

Founded in 1983 through the generosity of Iris & B. Gerald Cantor, the Cantor Art Gallery serves both as a venue for a changing series of historical and contemporary public exhibitions, as well as a vital resource for Holy Cross faculty and students, linking exhibitions to the broader liberal arts curriculum.

The hours for the Cantor Art Gallery are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 2 – 5 p.m. Located in O’Kane Hall, 1st Floor, College of the Holy Cross, 1 College Street, Worcester, Mass., 01610.  Visitors needing assistance with handicap accessibility should contact Public Safety at 508-793-2011. Admission to the gallery is free.

For additional information please call 508-793-3356 or visit the Gallery’s website.

Media Coverage

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

| More
Tags
Categories
News, Press Release

Comments are closed.

09/27/16 Photo Gallery: Homecoming 2016, a Weekend of Celebration
09/26/16 Kalif Raymond ’16 Signed To Denver Broncos Practice Squad
09/26/16 Three Holy Cross Seniors and Chicago Natives Enter Eighth Year on the Field Together
09/23/16 Photo Gallery: Expansion and Construction of Hart Center Continues
See All
See All
Featured Videos

See video
Video: Take a Look at Campus Life After the Sun Sets

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery, Video: Class of 2020 Receives A Holy Cross Welcome on Move-In Day

Watch Video >
See video
VIDEO: Stephen Colbert Talks Holy Cross in Web Exclusive

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Total Giving to Holy Cross Breaks Record With $46.7 Million Raised

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Spring Blooms on Holy Cross Campus

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Class of 2016 Shares What’s Next

Watch Video >
See video
‘Major in Anything…Succeed in Business’

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery, Video: Obama Advisor Broderick Johnson ’78 Speaks on ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ Other White House Initiatives

Watch Video >
See video
Crusaders Win Patriot League Championship

Watch Video >
See video
Men’s Basketball Knocks Off Bucknell In Double Overtime Thriller

Watch Video >
More

Dance Concert
5/3/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Our annual spring dance concert showcases vibrant work by the students in... See More >


Agape Latte
4/24/2017
Hogan Center
Hogan Center :See More >


Agape Latte
4/24/2017
Loyola Hall
Loyola Hall :See More >


Faculty Scholarship Lunch: Neel Smith
4/19/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl: Neel Smith, associate professor of Classics, will give... See More >


THE ROYAL FAMILY, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
4/8/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Steve Vineberg directs an American comedy classic about three generations... See More >


THE ROYAL FAMILY, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
4/7/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Steve Vineberg directs an American comedy classic about three generations... See More >


THE ROYAL FAMILY, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
4/6/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Steve Vineberg directs an American comedy classic about three generations... See More >


THE ROYAL FAMILY, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
4/1/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Steve Vineberg directs an American comedy classic about three generations... See More >


THE ROYAL FAMILY, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
3/31/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Steve Vineberg directs an American comedy classic about three generations... See More >


THE ROYAL FAMILY, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
3/30/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Steve Vineberg directs an American comedy classic about three generations... See More >


Agape Latte
3/27/2017
Loyola Hall
Loyola Hall :See More >


CABA Meeting
3/16/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07)
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07):See More >


Faculty Scholarship Lunch: Rosa Carrasquillo
3/15/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl: Rosa Carrasquillo, associate professor of history, will... See More >


Agape Latte
2/27/2017
Loyola Hall
Loyola Hall :See More >


CABA Meeting
2/23/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07)
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07):See More >


Faculty Scholarship Luncheon
1/31/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite B/C - 4th Fl
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite B/C - 4th Fl: In talking to non-mathematicians, John Little, professor... See More >


Agape Latte
1/30/2017
Loyola Hall
Loyola Hall :See More >


Woven Power: Ritual Textiles of Sarawak and West Kalimantan
12/14/2016
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery: "Pua kumbu" are magnificent, intricately dyed, hand-loomed cotton ikat... See More >


Woven Power: Ritual Textiles of Sarawak and West Kalimantan
12/13/2016
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery: "Pua kumbu" are magnificent, intricately dyed, hand-loomed cotton ikat... See More >

More Holy Cross in the News

09/23/16

Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams Visit Basketball Legend Bob Cousy ’50 at his Worcester Home

Telegram & Gazette

On Tuesday evening, the College of the Holy Cross’ men’s and women’s basketball teams visited the home of Bob Cousy ’50, and spoke with the basketball legend himself,...

09/21/16

European Student-Athletes Chase Dreams of Playing Soccer at Holy Cross

As a junior in high school, Arno Rupp ’18 decided he wanted to continue his education and chase his dream of playing soccer in college, according to an article by...

09/16/16

College Factual Ranks Holy Cross No. 2 Best Catholic College in the Nation, No. 5 Best Massachusetts College

Holy Cross is also ranked No. 35 in the nation.

College Factual ranked the College of the Holy Cross No. 2 Best Catholic College in the Nation, No. 5 Best Massachusetts College, and No. 35 overall among 1,387 Best...