skip to Main Content

Painting for Eternity

Some of the finest examples of Old-World mosaics can be found in Ravenna, Italy. And the city is still producing world-renowned mosaic artisans to this day. A CRAFTSMANSHIP mini-documentary film.

Issue: Fall 2022

Topics:

Locations:

Materials: , , ,

top image

A Film by LUISA GROSSO

Back in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., after Ravenna was made the capital of the Roman Empire, a number of churches, mausoleums, and other grand buildings were constructed here and embellished with unusually luminescent mosaics. Composed of pebbles, stone fragments, shells, terracotta, pearls, ivory, and variously colored pastes, all serving to illustrate various religious and mystical scenes, the mosaics have continued to dazzle visitors for centuries. The collection is considered so remarkable that, in 1996, Ravenna’s ancient buildings were classified as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

When Ravenna’s modern-day contractors start laying the foundations for new buildings, they sometimes stumble on intricately tiled floors that got buried centuries ago. In keeping with Italy’s devotion to beauty, and to its history, whenever these discoveries are made, construction stops, and another round of preservation begins.

Today, Ravenna is still home to a surprising number of mosaic artisans, some of whom have attained international renown on their own. In this documentary short (which runs a mere 9 minutes, viewable from the link below), Luisa Grosso takes us from the works of the ancient past to the mosaic artisans and innovators of today. One such innovator is Francesca Fabbri, who has produced remarkable mosaics commemorating figures such as Rajiv Ghandi of India, and the legendary Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. To entice you further, here’s a little teaser: the Nureyev mosaic is not a depiction of the dancer himself; it’s a replica, in richly and radiantly colored tiles, of one of Nureyev’s most treasured possessions, which he kept with him for comfort while on tour.

More stories from this issue:

Keepers of Indigenous Tradition

Pablita Velarde’s Legacy: The Pueblo Artisans of the Southwest

The Clay Conjurer

Latest content:

Watch “Painting for Eternity”

Listen to “A Conversation with Guest Editor RoseMary Diaz,” A Craftsmanship Artisan Interview

Chef Nephi Craig: Decolonizing Recovery through Native Foodways

Back To Top