Operation Norcia

Art Installation 




A combination of RED ZONE earthquake photos accompanied by recovered items,  

refinished in the color palette of  Fioritura Castelluccio Norcia, giving hope.


“When we suffer, we enter into a privileged group of humanity. It’s what we do next that defines us.”   

Life threatening quakes of August 24th gifted the Norcini with foresight to make a tough choice, “to forgo without comforts”. Voluntarily abandoning their homes at night, sleeping in alternative shelters, they moved to blue tents and campers scattered in yards or safer shelters of friends or family close by.

With the cold of winter approaching fast, for over 2 months, they slept outside. Each morning they returned to their daily life, tending their animals, preparing their meals, and fixing their daily chores, they moved forward. This choice protected the Norcini with no loss of life on 30 October 2016, when a 6.6 M earthquake rattled their city at 7:40 a.m., raising a cloud of dust that could be seen for miles.

My first post-tragedy visit to Norcia was to help with supply relief the locals had asked for, under the direction of the Calderini family. Donated supplies were carried up and unloaded in a warehouse. Norcia’s beloved city wall had fallen, piles of sand and rocks laid still like a trail of bread crumbs. Historical center entirely now a Red Zone was off limits, a ghost town where fireman and emergency workers were allowed.

A visual awe remained as we left. The colors of last spring’s fioritura di castelluccio di Norcia came repassed in my mind and this is where the reconstruction started. The abandoned throne like chair I wrapped in periwinkle leather bearing a diagonal earthquake fracture line with blossoming lace flowers arising from the crack. It represents St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica legacy, born in 480 in Norcia and later formed the Benedictine monastery.

The heavily used workers’ table became adorned with daisies and poppies. A basket of eggs sitting on the stool, an oxen chain mouth bit and neck noose represents the farming and cultivation of this land. Their specialty crop Lenticchia di Castelluccio under an IGP label (Indicated Geographical Protected Label). 

Norica’s Comandante Mario Bianchi approved our visit into the red zone. We were escorted by Andrea Tritella, a videographer and fire fighter within Italy’s Ministero dell'Interno and a few local fighter fighters.  

 OPERATION NORCIA is a combination of these photographs accompanied by “fioritura colored” furniture and a recreated segment of Noricia’s wall using actual sand from the fallen city. This installation depicts telling the story of the strength of the Norcini, reminding us, we are all part of this privileged group and it’s what we do next that defines us.