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Student Perspectives: Marco Palli (MFA 2018)

Marco Palli, a second year MFA student, shares with us his Studio School experience.

Marco Palli working in his studio (2018), Photo by: Rachel Rickert

I care not about objects themselves, but about the experience objects offer. As simple as this concept may appear to be, it has cost me many years of ongoing observation, meditation, and experimentation to arrive at it.

My upbringing in science is the foundation of my art practice. Most of my education happened in a school of science and having received my Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, my translation of the world is naturally mathematical. While logic, physics, and knowledge about materials combine to inform how I work, often my work involves reflecting a life of migration, as one born to Italian parents in Venezuela before moving to the United States in 2008 and experiencing the anxiety that can swell when attempting to convey ideas meaningfully in different languages.

I heard about the New York Studio School in 2013. I began taking evening classes focused on drawing and sculpture with Maestro Leonid Lerman. The class was from 6:30 to 9:30 pm, but I used to stay late exploring different alternatives, often until midnight when the building closes. One day, a student came in the classroom about 11:30 pm, singing “someone is a sculptor”, which is how I met Kathryn Beckwith (Alumni 2014). She suggested that I should participate in the Summer Marathon in Sculpture at NYSS and consider applying to a full-time program. I did not even have a portfolio, but the idea of sculpting seriously began to haunt me. I did the Marathon and I felt like I was training in a boot camp. I was confused and exhausted, but as soon as I recovered from the physical exhaustion, I realized that I wanted more! I was determined to keep investing my time into sculpture and kept taking classes in several art schools. I applied to the New York Studio School MFA program, with the original intention of only doing one year in the concentration of Sculpture. Fortunately, I was accepted, and what a great experience this has been. The New York Studio School MFA program offers a wealth of artistic values, styles, heroes, ideals, concepts, foundations, priorities, culture, community, and goals. After one year, I felt that my fortune was epic, so I decided to continue studying for the second year and see where that would take me.

Marco Palli at the Drawing Marathon with Graham Nickson (2016), Photo by: Rachel Rickert
Marco Palli working in his studio – surrounded by his work (2018), Photo by: Rachel Rickert

Some of the propositions I have explored in my works during the time I have spent at the New York Studio School have been epistemological in nature (Herd of Thoughts; Alphabet Experiments), focusing on the stability of identity (Marco Antonio and Marco; Blind Portraits), migration (Studies of aliens), the possibility of visual experiences in music/sounds (Acoustic Space; Listen With Your Eyes), processes of self-discovery through systems (The Universe’s Language; Unfinished; Unfinished with Cords), and even immaterial work that I called “written sculpture”.

Taxonomic and serial, most of my works are hybrid enterprises that explore materials through sculpture in the pursuit of an experience, using metal, music, stone, space, paper, movement, found objects, light, clay, and photography. I develop my work along a path to understand the whole – like there is something to be discovered and I would be rewarded for that, considering construction and simultaneous deconstruction relating to a process of un-making; exploring questions that do not necessarily yield answers. Common themes of hunger, cultural/private identities, migration, feeling lost, and linguistic insufficiency, are familiar to me enough that I use them to wrap my sculptural propositions. Incorporating tensions between materials and space, processes/systems, structure/obliteration and harmony/noise/dissonance/silence, I play a game of intellectual indulgence in which I look for avenues to scream my deepest thoughts.

Studying at the New York Studio School, I have had the opportunity to clarify a great deal of ideas, and I have grown into a person who understands how little we know about art and sculpture. Upon graduation, I know that I am just about to reach the end of the beginning, and though I know I am still lost – and I will be for a while (maybe all my life), I feel that at the New York Studio School I was given a compass that I am free to use to find my own ways to my own destiny.

Marco Antonio & Marco (2017), Terracota (9 x 3 x 3 inches)
Alphabet Experiments (2017), Sheathing Plywood (Dimensions varies between 4 and 8 feet tall)


Study of an Alien (2016), Glazed Terracotta (6.5 x 3 x 2 inches)
Herd of Thoughts (2017), Terracota (Dimensions varies, average size 3 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches)
Unfinished with Cords (2017), Steel (2 x 3 x 5 feet)

Snapshots From NYSS

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