Marble Festival to welcome first female Italian sculptor
by Emily Adams
Mar 26, 2013 | 2612 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The fifth annual Marble Festival is April 9-20 in Sylacauga. This marble sculpture from last year’s event was placed at City Hall. It was sculpted by Craigger Browne and called “Sylacauga Emerging.” This year’s visiting sculptor from Italy is Roberta Giovannini.
The fifth annual Marble Festival is April 9-20 in Sylacauga. This marble sculpture from last year’s event was placed at City Hall. It was sculpted by Craigger Browne and called “Sylacauga Emerging.” This year’s visiting sculptor from Italy is Roberta Giovannini.
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SYLACAUGA – The Marble Festival annually hosts a visiting sculptor, and this year’s guest of honor is sure to bring a novel flair to the festivities.

Italian artist Roberta Giovannini will be the first female visiting sculptor to attend the event, which kicks off April 9. Also an experienced oil and watercolor painter, Giovannini finds her true passion carving stone. She will bring a distinctive style to the fifth annual festival, teaching the same 14-step carving process used by Michelangelo, according to Marble Festival Chairman Ted Spears.

“She has a wonderful pedigree and a unique technique that I think will be fascinating,” Spears said at an Arts Council meeting Monday.

Giovannini will be in Sylacauga throughout the two-week festival. Her trip, like previous visiting Italian sculptors, was arranged through a cultural exchange program that exists between the Alabama Council for the Arts and the City of Pietrasanta, Italy.

Giovannini works primarily in Europe, making a yearly trek to Pietrasanta to procure its fine marble. She has also worked in Aspen, Colo., Ohio and other locations around the world and is a 1971 graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, Italy.

At least 16 other marble sculptors from across the U.S. and Canada will be in Sylacauga for the festival, Spears said. The sculptors typically set up camp at Blue Bell Park for the length of the event as they carve and visit with citizens.

A point of growth at this year’s festival will be the Children’s Sculpting program that is significantly expanded from last year. Elementary students from Sylacauga, Fayetteville, Sycamore and Coosa Central are already signed up to attend and learn how to carve marble from those who know it best.

Spears said lots of exciting events are planned – many of the trusted favorites and some added efforts – each with a certain goal in mind.

“All of this activity is to make the world aware of what fine resources we have here in Sylacauga – the industrial and commercial uses of marble and the artistic uses,” he said. “After all that is said and done, it’s to make Sylacauga better known as a destination place in the eyes of people from all over.”

The festival begins April 9 with marble product displays at the library showcasing actual products made at local industries using marble. Other festivities are as follows:

• April 8 Lecture on the history of Sylacauga marble by Author Ruth Cook at B.B. Comer Library at noon. Refreshments at 11 a.m.

• April 11-12 Quarry tours of OMYA from 9:30 a.m. – noon. To register, contact the Mayor’s Office at 256-401-2424.

• April 10-13 Alabama Marble Company visits from 1-3 p.m. To register, contact the Mayor’s Office at 256-401-2424.

• April 11 “Taste of Sylacauga” at J. Craig Center at 6 p.m. Sample food from local restaurants. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce.

• April 13 “Celebrate Sylacauga” block party from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. downtown featuring a concert by award-winning local songwriter Troy Jones, free food, activities and more.

• April 13 “Marble Mania” scavenger hunt contest forms due at B.B. Comer Library

• April 13 “Eric Essix Jazz Ensemble” School Foundation fundraiser at Harvey’s on Noble at 6 p.m. Tickets available from school foundation members.

• April 16 Mayor’s Reception for visiting sculptors and sponsors at 6 p.m. at Chamber.

• April 17-18 Imerys quarry tours and observation point visits from 9:30 a.m. – noon. To register, contact the Mayor’s Office at 256-402-2424.

• April 18 Lecture on the history of Sylacauga marble by Author Ruth Cook at B.B. Comer Library at noon. Refreshments at 11 a.m.

• April 20 Nemak 5K and 1-mile fun run at Blue Bell Park at 9 a.m.

• April 20 Scavenger Hunt awards at B.B. Comer Library at 11 a.m.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.