Liz Chalfin and Sheldon Carroll

Liz Chalfin and Sheldon Carroll traveled to Venice, Italy for three weeks in February – March 2020 (sandwiched between Carnivale an Covid 19) as part of an artist-in-residence exchange with the Scuola Internazionale de Grafica.

The inspiration for these photo etchings were the faces of the hundreds of keystones, which adorn the bridges and walkways of Venice. These “mascaroni” protect the citizens of Venice from the devil who might rise from the depths of the canals. Folklore tells of the vulnerability of humans at every crossroads where a decision is made. The devil waits as these intersections to lure people into evil. The mascaroni are there on the bridges and alleys to scare off these malevolent intruders. For Chalfin and Carroll these stone faces felt like the eyes of the city, gazing down upon the residents and visitors, watching history unfold over the centuries.

During their time in Venice, the history of a deadly plague was being played out again. Covid-19 hit the Lombardy region of Italy hard and early and their time in the city quickly turned from joyous to fearful. The masks of Carnivale turned into surgical masks - tourists fled, everything closed. Despite the anxiety, they were permitted to work in the studio of the Scuola and printed the photo etchings in the Sentinel series. The faces in the prints search the heavens and scan the sea with their ancient eyes and crumbling faces as the corona virus casts a veil of uncertainty and unseen danger across the city.

Liz Chalfin and Sheldon Carroll is based in Florence, MA

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