Giovanna Cecchetti’s journey to The Consciousness of Infinite Goodness began under the broadleaf canopy of the Amazon jungle. She first traveled there in 2008, living in hammocks, discovering the rainforest with a medicine man, and drinking plants that made her feel connected to the ancient ways of those around her.
What she saw truly amazed and inspired her: the sounds, spirits, animals, insects and plants all found a way into her work.
The medicine man also introduced her to the Hindu deity Siva. “This compelled me to further investigate Siva, which opened a new perspective to absolutely everything,” Cecchetti said. “I really mean everything.”
Later in her studio, an old silk mill in Paterson, Cecchetti was painting while listening to a podcast about Siva. The lecturer encouraged listeners to “conceive in your mind the ultimate goodness and when you have your picture of perfect goodness, infinite goodness, then make it better.”
That resonated deeply with the artist. “Just think of it: this concept of infinite goodness,” Cecchetti said. “Now, how do I integrate this idea of infinite goodness into an art-making practice?”
To discover how Cecchetti accomplished this, visit the Hunterdon Art Museum for her solo exhibition, The Consciousness of Infinite Goodness, which runs until Jan. 4, 2015.
“Several of the works in the exhibition are obviously devoted to Siva because of the text of written Sanskrit mantra being so evident,” she said. “In others, the text of the mantra is more embedded into the surrounding motifs. And in one particular work on paper, Om We Bow to the Consciousness of Infinite Goodness (Shiva/Shakti), the phrase is clearly stenciled into the design.”
Cecchetti adopts many of the techniques of the Old Masters when painting. She takes the time to create a good ground and builds systematically from that. “The paintings have a lot of layered glazes, and I sand between each layer of paint; not only to keep the surface very thin but to also confuse the layers, thereby confusing time,” she explained. “I use a cold wax varnish when finished and then buff the painting’s surface.”
The work is quite labor intensive, and she does everything by hand using small brushes. But there’s pleasure in the process. “Some repetitive processes really feel good, like breathing,” she said. “I bother with so much detail, but that is the quantum level interest I find so fascinating.”
Cecchetti was born in Suffern, New York, and later received her MFA from William Paterson University where she presently teaches as an adjunct professor. She is a recent recipient of a Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts Creative Fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts, and received a fellowship in 2006 from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Giovanna Cecchetti, Om We Bow to the Consciousness of Infinite Goodness (detail), 2006-2013, Pencil, colored pencil, pastel, acrylic paint, mica, beeswax, embroidery thread on Arches Cover, 67.5 X 42 in., Courtesy of the artist