Robert Calafiore employs a hand-built pinhole camera to create large scale one-of-a-kind c-prints. The subject matter currently, a collection of ordinary glassware, some of the first objects purchased by his immigrant parents, is assembled by stacking, shelving and/or balancing pieces into a single tableau, and often within a larger construction. It is then transformed by the unique recording characteristics of the camera's wide angle, the extended exposure, and the light sensitive paper's recording abilities. Calafiore manipulates the still life to control the results; altering the saturation, color, density and translucency of certain areas of the arrangement. His interest in process, traditional materials, and the reaction between light and chemistry, as well as the personal and universal stories told through every day objects, drives the work in his studio practice. Elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary, the every day to a magical place, is a primary motivator. No digital tools are ever used. The work recalls the well known 17th century cabinets of curiosity, Henry Fox Talbot's Articles of Glass, and the church niches etched in his mind, where objects of importance are revered. Reflecting on the endless flood and speed of changing technology throughout history, Calafiore steps back and invests in prolonged experimentation, investigation and hands-on making that speak to a change in how we use our bodies, noting the change in the physical dexterity of young generations and in the way we all see, interpret and react to the world around us, given the on-going digital revolution. His personal relationship, awareness and sensitivity to the physical world constantly informs the work.
Robert Calafiore was born in New Britain, Connecticut, to Italian immigrants. Both his early childhood and young adult experiences have played a significant role in shaping his interests and practice. Raised in a traditional Roman Catholic home, and part of a large extended family, the religious influence and the strong ties to traditions and work ethic contributed in molding the way he relates to the world. Calafiore currently serves as Assistant Dean of the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford.