Rachel Lanz worked as a social media specialist for World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland. She has a B.S. from Benedictine College in Journalism and Mass Communications and enjoys writing about youth-related topics. She is from Denver, Colorado and currently teaches English at a K-12 Catholic school in Rome.
Ancient paintings, tapestries and sculptures flood the Vatican Museums with as many as 6 million visitors a year. However, this month Caravaggio and Fiorentino are displayed under a new light.
A photographic exhibit, “Divine Creatures,” created by Adamo Antonacci, uses models with disabilities to recreate 10 masterpieces of Jesus’ life, from the Annunciation to the Resurrection.
In a brief documentary, Antonacci expressed that his idea for this project was sparked while reading the Gospel. “There is an evident connection between Christ and disabilities.”
It took more than six months to outline and complete this project, from auditions, photoshoots and post-production, before the original presentation at the Museum of the Opera of the Duomo in Florence.
It was a risky move, admits photographer Leonardo Baldini. They had more than 45 people carefully studying the artworks in order to produce the images as faithfully as possible, with 20 staff members dedicated to makeup artistry, costume design, set design, lighting and photography.
“I chose the pieces of art based on aesthetic reasons. The paintings had to be beautiful. They had to be recognizable,” Antonacci explained.
Baldini delves further into the great responsibility the staff had working on this project, not only with their technical skills, but also with respecting the young individuals involved, in order for them to grow into their role. His mission was to make the young models come to life, engaging with their own sensitivities and personalities, while staying true to the original artwork.
Participation in this exhibit reiterated the family members feelings of raising a child with a disability. “I’m aware of her handicap when I see the way others look at her,” Ilaria Pandolfi states in the Divine Creatures documentary.
In this case, they won’t see anything but beauty.
Some of the recreated, iconic pieces include Musical Angel by Rosso Fiorentino, 1521; The Annunciation by Caravaggio, 1609; The Adoration of the Child by Gerard van Honthorst, 1620; Ecce Home by Lodovico Cardi known as Il Cigoli, 1607; and Carrying Christ to the Tomb by Antonio Ciseri, 1870.
“We tried to encompass as many centuries as possible. We started from the 1400s and reached the 1900s so as to do two things at once: covering the life of Christ with as many periods as possible,” Antonacci said.
This exhibition blazes the path toward the Lenten season, as well as following Pope Francis’ message of peace and solidarity.
“Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility,” Francis reminds us in his 2017 Ted Talk.
The curator, Micol Forti, recognizes this tenderness in the exposition and hopes the viewers feel, what Forti describes, a “strong sense of solidarity.”
“These special people offer us with simplicity, and in a very easy way, this message: we are all exactly the same. We are the same as everyone.”
“Divine Creatures” will be shown until March 3, 2018, at the Vatican Museums, free of charge. Watch EWTN’s Nightly News video production for a sneak peek into the exhibit here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BDoOX2E588.