Italian artist contributes to local cause

Whether you say family or "famiglia," Italian artist Piero Maffei has come to America to show that it means the same thing.

And he wants to share its meaning, along with his work, with the Capital District.

Originally an architect and moving on as a sculptor, Maffei's work ranges from portrait paintings to intricate and detailed visualizations of symbolic family themes. His background in sculpture is easily recognized in his artwork, with three-dimensional designs dripping with color and chiseled shapes creating dramatic contrasts on the canvas.

Maffei received a grant from the Italian Government to come to America. His daughter, Iride, acted as a translator for her father in a slight English accent, having been taught the language in Britain.

"It is big, everything is very big," Maffei said of his first trip to the U.S. "The big spaces create a sense feeling of freedom in a way."

He said he particularly impressed with the Empire Plaza in Downtown Albany with such unique features like the Egg and an abundance of outdoor sculpture and artwork.

The Family and Children's Service of the Capital Region (FCSCD), the oldest social services non-profit in the United States, featured Maffei's work at the grand opening of its new Social Art Gallery on Friday, Oct. 3.

Executive Director of FCSCD, Keith Pickett, said he was pleased to present Maffei's art because of his family-themed work that spoke a language understood by all.

"Society needs focus and family, in that sense, is the core and society needs that. It needs something to hold onto," Maffei said. "When society isn't working [properly] it's because at its base there is a family that is not working, so we need to improve that because that's where it all comes from."

Maffei said his artwork reflects "good values and good messages and that society can benefit from the family working together."

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