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Carlotta Parisi: Life’s Thread & Chapters

Carlotta's Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.

Born in the picturesque town of Montechino, surrounded by the lush landscapes and ancient oaks of her magical birthplace, Carlotta Parisi was immersed in an environment rich with artistic influence. In this enchanting setting, her deep-seated passion for the arts began to take shape and ultimately influenced her destiny. 

Her artistic journey began in Milan, where Carlotta pursued studies and editorial illustration. However, her heart remained tethered to Montechino, and so she returned to her roots, establishing an art studio in the historic centre of her hometown. Early in her career, Carlotta’s work garnered widespread acclaim, attracting the attention of the press and national television channels, solidifying her reputation in the art world. Amidst her creative success, she faced personal challenges, which forced her to evaluate the creative path she was on and ultimately led her to a new chapter. 

Today, guided by the harmonious rhythms of nature and the echoes of her past, Carlotta has steadfastly focused on her current research, experimenting and exploring the production of colours extracted from minerals and plants, rediscovering ancient recipes long forgotten, poetry and a fiscal collaboration with nature converge. 

The Fibre Arts community celebrates not just her artistic talent and her remarkable spirit, but also her resilience, compassion and unwavering authenticity. 

Carlotta Parisi walking through the winery

Early Beginnings

“I grew up with my two sisters in Tuscany in a little tiny town called Montechino. One thing the town is known for is wine. I grew up there with my family under an ancient oak tree, because my dad deeply wanted to be in the countryside with the family. 

Growing beside him was a big gift because he was a very talented man. We would always play with everything we found around us, so it was very creative. And we used to play with leather and wood. My father was making pipes at that time, shoes and boots. He was especially going to see artisans in their studio workshops, and he was a younger guy at that time, learning that technique. For me, it was very important. He created a ‘room of wonders’ at our family winery, collecting the beauty of the environment.”

After a creative childhood, Carlotta went on to study as an illustrator. “I moved to Milan when I was 19. I didn't do academic studies. It was too reductive for me and didn’t open my vision but it gave me a job. Milan gave me rules, so I don’t have regrets. Everything happens in life for a reason.”

Carlotta moved back to Montechino after almost 10 years but felt lost because as an illustrator because it was very difficult to find work. “There are many beautiful illustrators in the world, and a lack of jobs because not so many books are published. So when I came back to Montechino, it was the opposite of success. It was a very difficult moment, even though I was with my family and I was happy to be back. A part of me felt that I didn't have success in what I deeply wanted for 10 years in Milan.” 

Carlotta found help from her sister, who invited her to join her graphic and communication studio. “Growing up with my Dad, I learned not just to draw but to use my hands and make three-dimensional stuff. So I started binding books and making felt, and this was my regeneration. So I opened a tiny workshop at the top of Montechino. My sister was upstairs and always called me if she needed illustrations.” 

Carlotta Parisi and dad

Transitioning to Papier Mache and Sculpture 

This period also marked the beginning of Carlotta’s time making paper sculptures. “Someone invited me to enter an art exhibit. I wanted to do more than illustrate so I decided to do a sculpture. My Dad once, when we were kids, did a puppet theatre for us. So I decided to do a similar sculpture in paper.”

Creating with paper marked a turning point for Carlotta, especially because she went deep within a family theme with this work. “This arrived after a big difficult moment. So to be able to come out with your own personality and with your own voice is something that is priceless.”

Carlotta’s recognition grew after her initial display and she was even able to create an exhibition with her father in Paris. After showing in places around Europe, her workload eventually became unmanageable. 

“At the beginning, I was shocked and happy and proud because after I had this little tiny exhibition in this little village near Montechino. I was asked to show my artwork on a tour, and national TV came, the national newspaper came and I was so happy. People started knowing my work and asking me for sculptures. So I did commission work. In the end, I was stressed because I was producing more than 100 sculptures a year. 

I am self-taught as a sculptor. I didn't have a specific technique; I just moved by myself. So I became very technically skilled, but little by little, I produced so much and I also had a baby and found it difficult to work at night. Eventually, I started feeling that my work was not speaking anymore and I was not able to give soul to what I created.”

It was this feeling plus a family event that moved Carlotta in another direction. 

Turning Points

At this point, Carlotta became interested in teaching. 

“I was protecting my technique. I started seeing copies of my work popping up all around the world, because social media gives you so much, but they also see you so much. So I started seeing my sculpture in Iran and in the States in Italy. At first I was very angry but eventually, I said, ‘Okay, I'm ready. I can share.’ I visualised a group of women and me sharing my technique. And I began to prepare a project for an International School so I could teach people how to make a sculpture from their illustrations.” 

Sadly, it was around this time that Carlotta’s sister Judy and her husband, John Franco lost their lives in a mountain accident in Mont Blanc.

“From that moment, my life obviously completely changed,” says Carlotta. “The sculpture I was working on at the time was never finished.”

Carlotta returned to her parents’ winery, not knowing what to do. “When you get lost, you have to be attached to something stable. I decided to stop making my art for a while.” Carlotta Parisi artwork

New Beginnings

Carlotta speaks of remembering her sister with honour and gratitude. 

“My new work arrived while I was helping my family and making visits to my winery. I was at that moment, instead of my teeny tiny workshop in Montechino, I was immersed in nature, every day working in the vineyards or seeing the process of nature and revisiting the ancient oak tree of my childhood.” 

“I never lost the connection with nature. I had seen so much nature around me, and I started seeing nature as a potential of new art for me, a new way to express myself.”

This triggered a new phase of Carlotta’s works. She moved on to creating botanical prints on paper, and even making her own botanical inks and dyes, using ancient, long-forgotten recipes.

“I started printing everything I saw around me and seeing my surroundings as potential. I felt inspired by my sister every time.”  

From a ‘Sabbatical of the Soul’ to Next Steps

Carlotta’s artistic journey has taken many turns. From illustrations to papier-mache sculptures, she now uses natural elements like dirt and leaves. Even the colours of her work have changed, as she has gone from bright illustrations to more natural tones. This artist’s exploration continues as she discovers wax crayons, watercolour and even stitch. 

All the while, Carlotta remains inherently authentic in her work, even if it becomes more difficult to immediately recognise. “I feel less sure about what I am going to make in the future. It’s the process I like, towards the final piece of art.” 

“Life is like a thread. Mine tried to break when my sister passed away, but it was reinforced. I was speaking to my sister when she passed away about workshops and about sharing. I’m looking forward to sharing what I have learned from my experiences, my studio, my land, my skills and my lessons about resilience. Who knows what will happen. I am curious as well as you!”

 
 
 
 

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