The BankRI Galleries present:
Constructions and Prints by Chiara Romano Van Erp,
May 5 through June 1, 2016 at the BankRI Turks Head branch in downtown Providence
There will be a Gallery Night reception on May 19 from 5 to 8:30 pm with live music by guitarist Mark Armstrong and light refreshments.
MEET THE ARTIST – CHIARA ROMANO VAN ERP
Quiet and confident, the lavender house stands out from the other homes in the Providence neighborhood. The particular shade of lavender, somewhere between a cool blue grey and pastel Easter egg purple, reflects its owner perfectly – serene and unusual.
This is the home of Chiara Romano Van Erp and her husband Peter. Chiara (pronounced Key-are-a) is an architect, designer and printmaker originally from Italy. Born and brought up in the industrial city of Turin at the base of the Alps, Van Erp was surrounded by a creative family. Her father was an architect and designer; her mother, a painter; and her aunt, the well-known sculptor Claudia Formica.
She grew up in a house created by her father, modernist architect Augusto Romano, full of objects and furniture he had designed. It was no surprise that she became an architect herself, graduating from the Polytechnic University of Turin in 1975. Van Erp worked with her father for two years, but she felt his influence deeply and wanted to strike out on her own.
“I couldn’t feel myself,” Van Erp explains. “I wanted to be independent.” Van Erp had heard of Paolo Soleri, the visionary architect and urban planner who was in the process of building Arcosanti, an ecologically sound city in the Arizona desert. He too was born and brought up in Turin. She applied and was accepted at the Arcosanti education center where students from all over the world still come to exchange ideas.
Her time in Arizona was a profound influence on her life. “It was almost like being out of this world,” Van Erp recalls. “The first night, I was sleeping in this cube. I could hear coyote and other strange noises. For a moment, I thought maybe I am dead.” Later, during her second stay at Arcosanti, she met her husband-to-be, aspiring architect Peter Van Erp.
They both came to Providence for Peter to finish his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. They found jobs, bought and renovated two houses, raised two children and made the city their home.
Slowly Van Erp moved from architecture to design. She began to design carpets, licensing her designs to manufacturers. She revisited her love for printmaking and she began to build fantastic constructions.
“As an architect, you always build models,” Van Erp explains. “I like playing with things 3-dimensionally. There are no building codes or restrictions to deal with. In architecture, your first idea rarely becomes unchanged at the end – it’s very frustrating.”
Van Erp’s constructions are a combination of architecture and sculpture. Soft colors permeate small wooden structures that look like they could be houses in a future time. Meticulously crafted geometric shapes combine to make an ideal city not unlike Soleri’s vision in the desert of Arizona, albeit in miniature.