“Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars.

‘There is the blueprint,’ they say.”

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Forma Sideris—a Latin phrase that refers to the many-pointed shape of a star—is a space to have guided conversations about things that so delight and inspire me that I want to share them with you. It is a space to discuss books and exhibitions that have left an impression, beautiful images, meaningful encounters with historical figures, places that have left an indelible mark, and magical realizations borne out of collaborations with other creative souls. Each conversation will be approached as an amateur—someone motivated by love (amatore)—as I want to share my multi-rayed love of the world with you.

Most of the topics will center around Italy and its art, literature, culture and history. No prerequisites, except curiosity and an open mind.

HOW DO THE CONVERSATIONS WORK?

All of the 90-minute conversations take place on the Zoom platform and the session is live. We begin with a 60-minute presentation including images and then move into a more open format of conversation and interaction. Participants will also receive a link to the recorded conversation, which will be available for consultation for one week.

Simply email me a request to join a particular conversation and a Zoom link will be emailed to you.  Please clearly specify which one you would like to participate in. 

When you sign up for a conversation you will receive a link in your email. Registration for each session will close one hour before it begins.

If you cannot attend at the time of the scheduled conversation, you can request a link to the recording which will be available for one week from the time of the session.

IS THERE A FEE?

All conversations are open to anyone who would like to participate. If you feel called to support this space with a donation, please click here.

CURIOUS ABOUT THE LATIN BEHIND FORMA SIDERIS?

In the 17th century, Pope Sixtus V wanted to welcome pilgrims to Rome in a systematic but beautiful way. He undertook a redesign of the city’s urban spaces by creating a route in the shape of a many-pointed star whose emanating rays would guide visitors to the most important sites in Rome. In Latin, the concept was referred to as Roma in forma sideris (Rome in the shape of a star) and can still be understood today by noticing the placement of obelisks in the city’s most important piazzas. 

For me, the idea of forma sideris and the shape of the star illustrate my multi-faceted interests and my approach to illuminating the history, art and culture of this wondrous country.

MAY 2020 CONVERSATIONS 

Wednesday, May 13th at 7pm (CET)

Dreams to Remember

he Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, an eroticized dream-romance was printed by Aldo Manutius in Venice in 1499 and has been referred to as one of the most beautiful books ever published. We will look at the history of the publication and the stunning images that accompany the type, and discuss how Renaissance dream theory differs from today’s current thinking on dreams (especially the vivid ‘pandemic dreams’ that many have been experiencing). Watch conversation here

Saturday, May 16th at 7pm (CET)

Artemisia Gentileschi

The major exhibition at London’s National Gallery might have been postponed, but in the meantime we will delve into the life and work of Artemisia Gentileschi, a unique female superstar in the world of Baroque painting. Bold and controversial in her art and in her life, Artemisia’s story allows for a conversation about women artists in general and how far they have (or haven’t) come even in the contemporary, still male-dominated art world. Watch conversation here

Wednesday, May 20th at 7pm (CET)

Napoli Unveiled: An Introduction Naples is a city that is at once in-your-face and carefully guarded—a dichotomy that contributes to its intrigue. In this 4-part series we will look at everything from alchemy and its influence on sculpture, the sojourn of Caravaggio in the city, the secret (erotic) collections of the noble Farnese family, and the wild 15th c.-reign of Ferrante I di Aragona. This conversation will serve as an introduction of the city, from its Greek origins to the present day. Watch conversation here .

Saturday, May 23rd at 7pm (CET)

Women’s Voices in the Laurentian Library

The Laurentian Library was designed by Michelangelo to hold the earliest collection of Medici family manuscripts, including several works by women. We will look at some of the most compelling pieces, including a 2nd c. BCE piece of pottery featuring the poems of Sappho and a manuscript by 13th c. power-hungry Byzantine princess and scholar, Anna Komnene. Watch conversation here .

Wednesday, May 27th at 7pm (CET)

Dante and the Birth of PurgatoryThough the Divine Comedy is most often associated with the Inferno, Dante showed his most innovative side in the creation of the mountain of Purgatory—where souls trudge for years, learning their valuable lessons so they may finally enter paradise free and clear from all vice and sin. We will look in particular Canto X of Purgatory and the terrace of Pride, where Dante provides three examples of the virtue of humility sculpted like bas-reliefs into the very stone of the mountain. Here we will examine the poet’s revolutionary use of art representing art and the implications this ‘visible speech’ has for the souls subjected to this purgation. Register Watch conversation here.

Saturday, May 30th at 7pm (CET)

Boundless Joy

Santa Chiara (St. Clare) was a 13th c.-mystic whose faith was inspired by her closest friend, Francis of Assisi. Even though she renounced her glorified noble status and lived an almost entirely cloistered existence, her delight and love for the world shines through in stories of her life and in her own writings. How might we be inspired by Chiara’s grace and her ability to feel and express joy even in extremely trying moments? Watch conversation here.