By Brian Hughes, Cultural Services Specialist, City of Crestview
The greatest published work by celebrated medieval Italian statesman, poet, linguist, and political theorist Dante Alighieri will be — appropriately — celebrated at the Crestview Public Library beginning in mid-February.
A free exhibition of works taken from Dante’s “Divine Comedy” will run Feb. 12 through March 11. It is the second public exhibit of the collection, which debuted locally at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College’s Niceville campus in November.
Mayor JB Whitten, the Crestview Public Library and the Crestview Cultural Services Division are sponsoring the exhibition, which was curated by the local Stars & Tricolore Italian military and cultural support association with the support of the Consulate of Italy in Miami. It commemorates the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.
“Dante is one of our most famous writers,” exhibit curator Nunzia Scialpi said during a visit to Crestview last week. “He is the founder of the modern Italian language.”
“Before he wrote ‘The Divine Comedy,’ everything was written in Latin,” added Scialpi’s husband, Col. Daniele Mastroberti, who commands the Italian air force contingent at Eglin Air Force Base. “He made his writings available to the common person.”
“We’re honored that ‘Diving into Comedy’s’ next exhibition is in Crestview,” Whitten said. “The Italian culture is so rich in its beauty and expression. I encourage everyone to come to our library to see this exhibit.”
Whitten chatted almost fluently in Italian with Scialpi and Mastroberti during their visit, seizing the opportunity to test his fluency of the language which he picked up during the 12 years he was stationed in Italy with the U.S. Air Force.
The Italian guests enjoyed lunch at The Wild Olive before touring the Crestview library with librarians Heather Nitzel and Annie Whitmore.
The library’s new Quiet Café near the front of the main room was quickly identified as a prime location for the exhibit of 44 panels, which depict classic etchings of scenes from “The Divine Comedy.” These are coupled with prints of contemporary interpretations of the same scenes from the “Comedy in Quilt” exhibition.
“The quilts were inspired by the poet’s verses and the American tradition of quilting,” Scialpi explained in her exhibit description. “’The Comedy in Quilt’ invites observers to join in Dante Alighieri’s journey in ‘The Divine Comedy,’ which begins in a dark forest, travels through Dante’s inferno imagery, reaches Lucifer at the center of the Earth, continues through Purgatory, and eventually ends in Paradise.”
The panels are reproductions of works currently displayed in the world-famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Civic Archives in Milan.
“Your beautiful library is a perfect place to share this exhibition,” Scialpi said. “It is our intent that the ‘Diving into Comedy’ exhibit will offer the opportunity to bring two cultures even closer together through the universal language of art in a unique and cozy setting.”
WANT TO SEE IT?
What: “Diving into Comedy” exhibit inspired by works of Dante Alighieri
When: During regular opening hours, Feb. 12 to March 11
Where: Crestview Public Library, 1445 Commerce Dr. (behind the post office)
Notes: Free exhibit of etchings and interpretations in quilting of scenes from Dante’s “Divine Comedy.
602 S. Main St.
Crestview, FL 32536
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