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Capena Italy "City of Art"

In 2018 I embarked on a solo journey to small town outside of Rome called Capena to work with a ceramic artist named Giovanni Battista Rea. I got the opportunity to live in his family's beautiful garden, spend time and become friends with the local residence, and learn new ceramic techniques.

In the month I was there I learned raku firings and also how to create mosaics. My first week I worked alongside Battista in creating a mosaic tree in monterotondo train station. A company called Happy couching and counseling, works with local groups of people and help with different types of team building. For the work at Monterotondo we worked with local children that would not only help with breaking tiles, but each child also created a leaf that would be hung on the tree. On each leaf they were told to write their names and a trait about themselves that they were proud of. We then took each leaf back to Battista's studio to be fired and glazed, but not without making our own of course! Building the tree took about a week and at the end there was a big party where the children would come with their families and place their own leaf on the tree. The experience of being able to work alongside these child and watch this tree grow a little more each day was incredible. And knowing that I got to help in creating a beautiful landmark in Rome had me feeling quite proud.

The weeks after that Battista taught me how to do raku firings. I remember the first time pulling the pieces out the kiln and placing them in the special trash bins full of sawdust. It was exhilarating to carry this burning hot ceramic piece and watch it catch a blaze once it touched the wood chips! Then to wait and listen for the glazed to start its crackling and hury and trap the smoke to get that deep black result on the naked clay areas. It was so exciting that usually the locals living in the area would usually all gather around in hesitation to see the finished results.

The time I spent there that summer was life changing. I was foreigner welcomed into this small town with open arms. I became great friends with many of the locals that had taken me under their wing and treated me like family even though I could barely speak the language. I especially thank that experience to Battista Rea, who invited me back the next year for three months as his apprentice.

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