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What’s Here/Cos’è qui is a collection of works by artist Bryan Parnham, all made in Cortona during the past year and predominantly in the past six months.
Parnham first came to Cortona in the Fall of 2012 as a student in the University of Georgia’s study abroad program. Seven years later, in 2019, he returned to work as UGA Cortona’s Visiting Artist/Facilities Manager, an 18-month position that gave Parnham the opportunity to travel extensively with UGA students to cities and towns around Italy. In March 2020, the participants of the UGA program returned to the United States due to the outbreak of Covid-19. Parnham remained in Cortona and continued to create, and it was during this time that most of the work seen here was made.
The focus of this work is a collection of photographs made by Parnham on 35mm film. Additional pieces are assembled from sheet metal in the style of ‘pietra dura.’ These pictures, whether tiled together or etched and painted, are a symbolic journal of Parnham’s experience living in Italy. By collecting images and influence from his surroundings, Parnham created these works in order to better digest his experience of Italy’s dense history and culture. His work takes visual cues from a range of sources. Imagery throughout the show has been lifted from museums across Italy, ‘gettone’ insignia, and in one work titled ‘Pietra Dura,’ from MAEC’s own collection. Colors have been sampled from medieval paintings, the walls of Cortona’s homes and surrounding valley. Parnham uses American stylistic influences from artists such as John Baldessari, paired with influences of Italian graphic designers of the 1950s and 60s such as Max Huber and Franco Grignani.