On Tuesday, November 24, the Vilcek Foundation and Pen + Brush presented an artist and curator talk centered on the work of Italian-born artist Michela Martello. A multidisciplinary artist, Martello’s work explores feminist themes through the combination of traditional and contemporary influences.
The event was free and open to the public, and was conducted as a Zoom webinar.
In collaboration with Pen + Brush, the Vilcek Foundation published Be A Good Ancestor: The Michela Martello Coloring Book in October 2020. The digital publication is one of a series of coloring books, intended to share the work of diverse artists with audiences in a fun and innovative way. The line drawings based on Martello’s work for Be A Good Ancestor: The Michela Martello Coloring Book were developed by illustrator and graphic artist Paula Kinsel.
The Vilcek Foundation first partnered with Pen + Brush to share Martello’s work in a 2015 exhibition, Domesticity Revisited. Co-curated by Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel and Pen + Brush Associate Executive Director Dawn Delikat, the exhibition explored the treatment of domesticity in contemporary art by women artists. Martello’s work has been included in several exhibitions at Pen + Brush, including most recently in Pen + Brush’s late fall 2020 exhibition, Isolation to Revolution/Rebirth to Dissent.
Discussion was moderated by Delikat and featured Martello, curator Giovanni Bonelli of Galleria Giovanni Bonelli in Milan, Italy, and Paula Kinsel. In October 2020, Galleria Giovanni Bonelli hosted a solo exhibition of recent work by Martello, Sulla Terra / Of The Earth.
Subjects ranged from Martello’s influences and process in her work to the different ways that artists and galleries around the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Delikat and the panelists also explored the processes of looking at, deconstructing, and reimagining art to make something new.
Martello spoke about her use of symbols and visual elements from a variety of traditions in her work, and the process of combining symbols to synthesize new meaning. “For me it’s always been like this—working with symbols—since ever,” she said. “I cannot recall precisely how this process started, but it has to do with the effort of bringing together opposites—creating sacred in paradox.” Delikat remarked, “What we often say about Michela’s work [at Pen + Brush]… is that she is creating a universal language—because not only does she take symbols across religions, across cultural boundaries, it’s really across centuries.”
As we look forward to brighter days ahead, the Vilcek Foundation takes inspiration from Martello and the panelists in holding up the importance of art as a conduit for fostering community and connection.
We are grateful to all of our panelists and participants:
Associate Executive Director, Pen + Brush
Director, Galleria Giovanni Bonelli
Illustrator and motion graphic atist