Honoring one’s origins and realizing with one’s own eyes, and with one’s heart, that that Institute, where mosaicists have been trained for a hundred years in his grandfather’s native town, is truly an excellence: these are the reasons that pushed David Zavagno to leave his hometown in the United States and reach Spilimbergo.
Accompanied by his wife Denise and a couple of friends from Genoa, yesterday, 6 May 2022, he visited the Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli. His arrival was expected, preceded by an extensive correspondence in which Dr. Zavagno had expressed his desire to leave Cleveland, Ohio, to join the festivities that celebrate the School in this particular year, known from a distance through family stories. The president of the School Stefano Lovison and the director Gian Piero Brovedani await the guests. An in-depth visit, which also saw the participation of Giovanni Travisanutto and his son Fabrizio, former students of the School and today owners of a mosaic workshop whose activity is well integrated in the American market, allowed Zavagno to admire the many works exposed, to walk the corridors, to access the mosaic workshops where the students were engaged in the execution of their works with hammer blows, to understand the training path, from the first copies in Roman and Hellenistic style, up to the contemporary mosaic where the classic canons give way to creativity. The school building itself impressed Zavagno: its development and its beauty, knowing that the original 1930s building on via Corridoni was born thanks to a contribution from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Contractors’ Association, an American union of entrepreneurs, mostly Friulians, who had established themselves in the field of terrazzo and mosaics. He then paused together with Maestro Stefano Jus, teacher of the School, to deepen the great external redevelopment undertaking that the School will undertake in the coming months and whose design was born within it: the 1,400 m2 mosaic flooring with images of the flora and the regional fauna that will surround the two exhibition buildings on Viale Barbacane.
After the visit to the School, a walk through the historic center of Spilimbergo and an interview with the Mayor Enrico Sarcinelli followed.
In the afternoon, a meeting with the students of the School is scheduled: a moment strongly desired by Zavagno to leave a testimony and a sign to young people who dream of affirming themselves in life through the art of mosaics. With heartfelt words, Zavagno addressed the audience of students and teachers, testifying his strong bond with Friuli and an artisan knowledge that made his family fortune. In fact, his grandfather, Enrico Zavagno, was from Spilimbergo and like many young people he had emigrated in search of fortune. Through family vicissitudes he had come to the United States.
After an initial period where the insertion into such a different society was certainly not easy, with language barriers and a job market that offered low-qualifying activities to foreigners, the Friulian “Henry” managed to open his own business in 1924 in Cleveland specialized in the processing of marble and partly in the execution of mosaics. Strategic choices, resourcefulness and skills made the company grow through generations and still in business. Zavagno, as a grandson, learned craft skills by watching his grandfather and father at work: it was they who passed on to him the techniques and, above all, the passion. He learned by doing, with experience, without specific education and even if David Zavagno later achieved his professional career in another sector, the love for stone and mosaic remained in his soul as well as his being from Friuli, from Spilimbergo, where the two aspects are closely linked due to its family history and biography, two sides of the same coin.
In clear words, he explained his emotion in being, precisely in the centenary year, at the Mosaic School, the only place where you acquire a profession that our ancestors learned with difficulty in the shops and on the construction site; a profession that, due to its specificity, allowed many emigrants to the United States in the first place, but also to the rest of the world, to be successful and to transform themselves from workers into entrepreneurs.
Zavagno therefore invited the students to become aware of the importance of the school they attend, a possibility that his grandfather and the other Friulians of the time did not have, and he urged them to excel in the art of mosaic, to develop their skills to the maximum, to bring skills, creativity, beauty to the world. “You have arrived here in Spilimbergo, leave a mark, your footprint! Bring your mosaics wherever life takes you: the world is yours to explore. I can’t wait to see your footprints, your works”.
With this wish, Zavagno, in order to demonstrate his appreciation for the educational work that the School is conducting, handed over to the president and director a large donation worth ten thousand euros, in his name and his wife Denise, with the I hope that it will support the training activity. He then wanted to deliver two certificates of esteem from the Embassy and the American Association that brings together marble and mosaic companies into the hands of the director Brovedani: a bond started in the 1930s, never abated and today renewed.
“The generous and concrete gesture of David Zavagno and his wife Denise are for us testimony of how the Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli is appreciated in the world” declared the president Lovison. “We train the students but it is they as Mosaic Masters who bring the passion, knowledge and beauty of the mosaic to every place. We are proud of this and it is our duty to thank those who have done before us to make this School an international mosaic center. I welcome the exhortation of our American supporter to ensure that the School is committed to always being first in everything it does, we owe it to the many emigrants from Friuli, to our land and also to our friend David Zavagno to whom our most sincere goes. gratitude”.
The director Gian Piero Brovedani, David Zavagno, Denise Zavagno and the president Stefano Lovison
7 May 2022