Being awarded a Fulbright Grant to carve marble for a year in the town of Pietrasanta, Italy was a dream come true for a sculptor like myself. The situation was ideal; one was able to learn from and be inspired by the Italian craftsmen and the international community of artists who come from around the world to work there. And the proximity to centuries of Italian art to view in Florence and many other nearby cities – it was at once exhilarating and inspiring. So much to study and attempt to absorb.
An important part of the experience entailed a trip, or in my case, several trips to the marble quarries high above the town, including the quarry discovered by Michelangelo atop Mount Altissimo in the Apuan Alps where one could marvel at the source of the white marble and the process of its excavation.
My year was almost over when I received an invitation to the 40th year anniversary celebration of the Fulbright Program in Italy to be held in Sienna. Among the guests was to be none other than Senator Fulbright himself. I traveled there hoping to convey my experiences over the past year to him and explain how much it meant to me. What a thrill it was as an artist to be able to live and work in Italy for a year. I was so immensely grateful and wanted to be sure to thank the man responsible for this incredible program. Finally the day arrived. I went to Sienna, attended the reception, listened to the panel and the speeches and after the banquet approached Senator Fulbright, but all I could manage to say was a heartfelt “thank you for my Italian year, Senator Fulbright”.
Anya Farion – Fulbright to Italy 1988