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Esther Maschio, Artist

 

It is always a mystery to me where my art comes from.  Most often, rapt attention quickly turns to gaze or trance. I empty out and stillness wraps me like a soft blanket. Then, after a while, prompts quietly steal in: do this…don’t do that.

I have been in the habit of going to an old farmhouse in the Tuscany hills, to a studio where my art seems to just pour out.  This particular year, on the first morning after arriving at the same farmhouse, I am awake at dawn. My decision this year is to work in charcoal prior to etching plates. After a few days of acclimation and studio work my scribble drawings accumulate.

The farmhouse is silent. In this lovely silence, I relax and stare at the charcoal scribbles. These black irregular, nondescript marks on stark paper come alive. I see faces, and a dialogue begins. Each figure directs me in the way to enhance the image and evolve it into a Woman of the Hills (a title for a series of art done in Italy). They want to be seen, heard and validated. I comply, and the room quickly becomes crowded. I realize now the direction for this years work…to transform these charcoal drawings into etchings. In all, 184 charcoals emerged in 27 days this year. Ten were made into etchings.

The moon story began another year in Italy, one summer evening,  when I witnessed a full moon rising over mountains in Tuscany. In the foreground sat a grove of olive trees and the moon literally peeked at us between the branches. We were a small group of printmakers doing a residency at an etching studio nearby and our living quarters placed us upon the patio of this charming farmhouse that evening. The ‘discovery’ of the moon stopped our conversations, for it took all of our attention to take in the haunting beauty. In subsequent years there, we planned full moon celebrations with music, art, poetry, wine and specially prepared food. We even dressed up a little only to wait impatiently for the guest of honor to arrive. At the time it did not occur to me to use the moon as subject matter but in retrospect that was when the moon planted itself inside me.

Now, I am such a Moon-iac that friends give me moon reports. A few months ago, I received an iphone image of the full moon from Rome, sent to me by Kumkum, who is known to gaze at the moon and forget to breathe. I recently purchased a pictorial book about moons, constellations and all manner of sky activities. I haven’t looked at it yet. I think it will spoil the spell I am currently under.

My art career began in the commercial arts and evolved into doing fine art. I maintain my own etching studio, First EMpressions, in Scituate, MA.  I teach printmaking there and at the South Shore Art Center in  Cohasset, Ma. My book, A Ten Minute Walk, is nearing completion. It is about etching and related happenings, and will include images of the work I have created in Italy. In keeping with art and travel, I curate exhibitions called Women who Travel. These shows are about six women who travel and do art based upon their travel.

As a student of art and as an art teacher, the best advice received and given has been “Follow your dreams.”