27 July 2011

Madonna in the Garden, San Marcellino a Torpignattara

Oil on Linen mounted on Panel
© Kelly Medford, 2011

This was an unlikely painting as far as I'm concerned. In all my time in Italy (more than 6 years now!) I've never attempted to paint anything religious. In fact it seemed a topic to avoid, even if the some of the most gorgeous treasures are to be found in Italy's infamous churches.

I originally went to this place in my neighborhood here in Rome to paint the remnants of a Roman mausoleum with an odd little 20th-century church built right inside of it- the likes of which could only be found here in Rome.

But when I arrived the light wasn't right and since the mausoleum is fenced off in the middle of a park, I went into this church courtyard to try and get a different view.

The courtyard was eerily silent and has been abondoned for the summer holidays I imagine. Once inside the courtyard I was turning around looking for a good angle and spotted this odd statue in the middle of the little church garden.

I remember when I was learning Italian one of my homework assignments was to read an article on 10 taboos or things not to do in Italian culture. In response I had to write my own 10 taboos for my Italian teacher, telling her 10 things never to do with Americans. This thought came to mind as I sat down to paint this: one of the top 1o things never to do is talk about religion or politics at the table if invited to dine with Americans.

Of course my Italian teacher was shocked by this, as all Italians talk about (besides food!) is politics (less about religion). It was one of the first moments of many in clarifying the differences between myself and Italians which I had never thought about before.

This painting of the madonna was only heightened by the tree branches radiating out from around her head, pointing to the heavens. I didn't mean to add this heavenly significance, it was there waiting to be painted.

I plan to stick to my American protocol and keep the subject of religion at bay, but it did provide me personally with a moment of reflection on my culture and to ask myself why I haven't painted anything like it before.

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