This year marks the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Stone House. To commemorate this event, the Deering Estate is hosting the exhibition Stone House as Subject. Artists Monia Meluzzi and Becky Franco created works that reflect the interior and exterior facades of the House and its historical significance to South Florida. Meluzzi’s energetic and intricate pieces occupy the entrance hallway of the gallery, while Franco’s hyper realistic styled paintings are displayed in the adjacent room. Stone House as Subject is on view in the Great Hall until August 31st
Meluzzi is a Miami-based Italian artist known for working with sustainable materials and creating work with a focus on societal behavior. She is a recent immigrant to the United States from Rimini, a small city along the Italian coast of the Adriatic Sea. Having been raised in a historical and ancient city, Meluzzi’s art was inspired by the several monuments that surrounded her during childhood. Her father’s work with wood also pushed her to eventually pursue the arts at the Liceo Artistico A. Serpieri in Rimini, where she earned her Artistic Maturity Degree in 2011.
Meluzzi always knew that one of her goals was to travel the world. She was born into a bicultural family with an Italian father and a Dominican mother. This cultural richness has allowed her to explore other places, including her current city, Miami. She is now enrolled at Florida International University and is on her way to completing a BFA.
Meluzzi’s work in the Stone House as Subject exhibit focuses on the architecture, history and symbolism of the structure. She considered the impact of the space as both a historical area and a nature preserve. Keeping true to her environmentally friendly practice, she utilized recycled papers that were drenched in coffee to depict the natural space that is home to the Stone House.
Meluzzi draws the viewer’s attention to the theme of materiality by layering paper, making marks, and using washes to create the architectural scrolls of the Stone House. The artist has also created geometric frames for the scrolls imitating the iconic floral and vegetal decorative motifs found throughout the interior of the House.
We had the chance to interview Monia Meluzzi to discuss in more detail her career and her experience working with the Deering Estate resources for this project:
Q: What brought you to Deering Estate and attracted you to the Stone House as Subject project?
A: I was contacted by the curator of the museum through my virtual gallery on Instagram because she had seen examples of my architectural studies. I frequently use the Instagram platform as a virtual gallery to show images of my past and current projects. The majority of my work shows architectural sketches, so I got the opportunity to work on Stone House as Subject.
I had never been to the Deering Estate before, but I was very glad to have this opportunity. My first impression when I walked through the entrance of the house was the sensation of walking through the entrance of a medieval castle. It connected me to my home city where there is a castle named Sismondo, which belonged to Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, the lord of the city of Rimini during the 15th century.
Q: What inspired you to use mainly recyclable and sustainable materials in your art?
A: I think it comes from our lifestyle during my childhood. When I was growing up, my dad taught me to give a second look to something broken or malfunctioning before throwing it away, because it could either be fixed or be part of the creation of something else. He is a carpenter, so I grew up watching him fix things, which included creating furniture in the house, and collecting materials.
I remember when I was young, and I used to draw on white paper. At some point, there was no more paper I could use so my dad started giving me the back of old calendars for me to draw on. I think of this moment as the tipping point that helped me to be more aware of recycling as a lifelong practice; it doesn’t only help me economically but it also allows me to be kinder to the environment.
Q: How do you incorporate themes of injustice and human behavior into your pieces?
A: For the series that I made “Fortezza” (Fortress) “Stone House” and Portico di Carlo (Charles’ porch) there is no theme of injustice. I chose to focus on the materiality of the background made with my drawing and the aging effects of the stained coffee on the paper.
However, in one of the more recent projects I made, titled “2019- present,” I include the theme of injustice by showing a body in the water that can’t move because hands and feet are tied with threads. It is through these materials and the way I choose to incorporate them in my work that I symbolize negative aspects of society in relation to discrimination during COVID time, for example.
Title: 2019 – present
Medium: cardboard, recycled artist paper, brown paper, coffee, gesso, black ballpoint pen, ink, promarker, and black cotton thread.
Size: 4 panels, – 12ft x 10ft, 4 Stands – 3ft
Q: What message do you hope to convey with the Stone House as Subject exhibit?
A: I intend to convey a message not only to art lovers but also to younger generations. This is a message about how they can be inspired to create art not only by using the typical and traditional art materials but by reusing things found at home on the streets, much in the tradition of Arte Povera (poor art), the Italian art movement from the 1960s and 1970s. Even the smallest found item can help an artist make a more monumental artwork and to say something important with it. However, the overall message is to be aware of the importance of sustainability and to help the environment as much as we can in the process.
This summer, make sure to stop by Deering Estate and witness these incredible pieces created by the talented Monia Meluzzi and Becky Franco. The Stone House as Subject exhibit will be on display daily from 10 AM to 4 PM until August 31st. For more information on Meluzzi and her artwork, visit her website through the link: https://moniameluzzi.wixsite.com/mysite.