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Bellarmine Museum of Artopens Dalton Ghetti 9-11 Memorial (3000 Tears)

Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art, commemorates the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 by presenting the exhibition Dalton Ghetti: 9-11 Memorial (3000 Tears), on view September 11, 2012, through October 13, 2012. This exhibition marks the launch of the Bellarmine Museum’s new “pop-up” art series, which highlights contemporary works by dynamic artists with little advance notice, at unpredictable intervals and for just a few weeks at a time, all for the greater enrichment and enjoyment of Bellarmine Museum’s diverse audiences. Mr. Ghetti’s exhibition includes 3000 Tears, his tribute to 9/11, as well as three other works: Twin Towers, 2007, Sewing Needle and Spool, 2003, and Church, 1990.

Artist Dalton M. Ghetti (b.1961) was deeply affected by the events on September 11, 2001; so much so that he was moved to create a memorial to honor the fallen by carving one teardrop every day for each of the victims. Averaging 300 teardrops per year, it took him 10 years to carve the 3,000 teardrops necessary to complete this project, entitled 3000 Tears. Using only his bare hands and a razor blade, and working without the benefit of a magnifying glass or other optical device, the Bridgeport, CT artist, whose studio is located in the Black Rock section of the city, carved individual teardrops from the graphite of pencils he found in streets and on sidewalks. The teardrops, each of which took nearly one hour to carve, are no larger than single grains of rice. Combined, they make one large, two-dimensional dark teardrop against a white background.

Dalton Ghetti began learning how to handle tools at the young age of 6 when, at school in his native Brazil, he and the other students used razor blades and pocket knives to sharpen their pencils for drawing and writing. He was also inspired by his mother, a seamstress. When Dalton was 8 years old, she taught him how to use a sewing needle to help her with simple projects like hemming and sewing buttons. At the age of 9, the artist received from his parents a set of metal tools for children, which he used to make his own boxes, toys and go-carts. This is also the age when Dalton began sculpting with knives, chisels and a hammer. Ever since, he has created many objects out of all kinds of materials.

At first, the artist carved large objects; but in 1986, as a challenge to himself and because of his interest in small living things, like plants (moss) and insects (spiders and ants), he decided to create the smallest possible carvings that he could see with his naked eyes. One day, he picked up a working pencil and started carving it. His idea is to bring people’s attention to small things, where he finds that beauty resides. Most of the pencils he uses are found objects, reflecting the conception of his work as a recycling process in which discarded objects are transformed into art.

To create his sculpture, Mr. Ghetti holds the pencil in his hand under a strong light source (table lamp or sunlight) and carves it mostly with a sewing needle and a very sharp, triangular, small, metal blade. He works at very small intervals: 1 to 2 hours maximum per day whenever he gets inspired. The artist works very slowly, removing speck after speck of graphite. It therefore takes months or sometimes years for him to complete a sculpture.

For Mr. Ghetti, sculpting pencils is a hobby and a form of meditation, which requires a tremendous amount of patience. His pencil carvings are not for sale so he is driven by neither commercial motive or economic incentive. Rather, he sculpts mostly for himself; and his art comes from his heart. He wants to keep it that way.

The Bellarmine Museum of Art is located in Bellarmine Hall on the campus of Fairfield University, at 1073 N. Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Admission is free. The museum is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the University is in session, and will be open from 12-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 13 (Family Day) during the run of this exhibition. The award-winning museum stewards a delightfully broad array of world-class art and artifacts and mounts up to five temporary exhibitions per year, hosting a range of complementary educational programs. Call (203) 254-4046, or visit

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