Alex Mandli

2018 RAM Artist Fellowship Winner

Artist Statement

My iTalianate work started with a trip to Italy in 2013. Like many travelers, I was fascinated by Italy’s history, art, landscape, and architecture, but I was also intrigued by things such as colors found in the earth, tufa stone, and pottery forms by anonymous artisans. After visiting the studios of two Italian ceramic artists, Franco Balducci in San Gimignano and Marino Moretti in Viceno, I began to experiment with a container of iron oxide given to me by Mr. Moretti, using it to create an antique surface decoration when combined with my existing firing techniques. It inspired me to start a new Italianate series.

After creating several Italian-style forms with the coloring of the iron oxide, I remembered an ancient bowl with human figures walking on the rim that I had seen in Florence. The simple beauty of that bowl led to the second defining characteristic of this series—figures that represent the new reality of over-connected humans living in the digital age. Through this work, I question, comment, and poke fun at humans tethered to their devices and the resulting changes in social behavior. In essence, these ceramic works are three-dimensional editorial cartoons. The name “iTalianate” blends a word that means Italian in appearance or character with the lowercase “i” common to a certain technology company’s products.

My iTalianate Series has about thirty pieces that integrate the appearance of ancient objects that might have been part of an archaeological dig with the iconography of modern technology in a way that links the past, present, and future.

Conversation in the Studio with RAM's Curator of Exhibitions Lena Vigna.

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Alex Mandli
Tweet: Digital Homage to Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch, 2017
12 x 7 x 2 inches