Stai Calmina , 2023
60 x 42 x 1 in (h x w x d)
1000 USD
Mixed media
for sale

There's a recurring theme for me here in Florence, and it has been the inspiration for one aspect of this series as an ode to Dante, and it's become somewhat of a joke at this point.

Imagine, if you will, you're in a restaurant, minding your own business. You review the menu, order food and drinks, and enjoy a lovely dinner. However, throughout the whole time, imagine someone watching your every move from the table beside you. You don't know them; they don't know you. Every bite you take, wherever your hand travels - for your glass or your phone - they are watching you like a hawk, so much to the point that they aren't even interacting with the people at their own table.

Twilight Zone sh*t.

It would feel like a cosmic gag, wouldn't it? But this is my life here. It's like being famous without all the perks. And no matter how sane locals tell me to ignore it, I'm positive they wouldn't be able to "stai calmina" (chill out) if it happened, let's say 90% of the time when living their life in public. I can tell you it isn't the best if you're living with PTSD.

So when this kind of thing happens, I imagine where I will put them in my reimagined Dante's Inferno. What started out as an unspoken joke has become my way of coping with the situation. When reality starts to blur, and I want to take a few steps back, I imagine myself in a much different place - like Switzerland.

Just kidding...or am I?

When the bizarro staredowns occur, and I'm too tired to engage, you'll see me make my "stai calmina" face like this painting. Because when this game of charades begins and I (and my tablemates) are the unwilling participants, I escape into an imaginary space where I'm somewhere happy, an imagined Paradiso.

And for a few moments, I'm free from the scrutiny, free to imagine how it would be if we were all on the same page - or at least not on opposite ones.

So, I'm using Dante's journey as my way out - for now. After all, there’s no better cure than laughter and imagination to assuage whatever ails you. That’s what I’m learning here in Florence—and maybe that’s why I took this journey in the first place.

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