‘Holy Cross show documents Italian nativity art’

“Piazza San Pietro” by Margot Balboni.

Boston Globe

On the front page of the arts section, the Boston Globe reviewed the College of the Holy Cross’s Cantor Art Gallery exhibit “The Italian Presepe: Cultural Landscapes of the Soul,” calling it a “rare art exhibition that small children might take as much pleasure in as the adults who bring them.” The show runs through Dec. 17.

The exhibit showcases a collaborative project by Margot Balboni, an independent curator and photographer, and Sarah Stanbury, a medievalist and the Monsignor Murray professor in the arts and humanities in the English department, on an important form of Italian installation art: the nativity scene, or the “presepe.”

The Boston Globe says it is “unusual because of its subject matter and the imaginatively varied way the exhibition gets at it.”

The exhibit includes more than 50 of Balboni’s photographs of nativity scenes from the 13-century to today, along with photographs of artists at work in contemporary workshops in Rome, Naples, and Puglia, three regions where the presepe has developed distinct regional styles. Each presepe, a miniature “cabinet of memory,” is a palimpsest of Italian art and culture.

Balboni writes on the presepes, “The story is always the same, but the personal act of making a presepe continuously reenergizes the story.”


This “Holy Cross in the News” item by Jacqueline Smith ’15.