Sicilian Folk Art
Concetta Rizza (1961 - 1999)
Concetta Rizza was born in 1961 in Floridia, Italy to Carmelo Rizza and his wife Giuseppina. She was the eldest of Carmelo and Giuseppina’s three children. Like her father, Concetta had a natural gift for the arts, reflected in her childhood notebooks, sketchbooks, and journals.
In 1981 she married an Italian-born American and moved to Guam with her husband, who was stationed on the island due to his job with the U.S. military. Despite having no formal education in English, Concetta studied the language on her own and became proficient. Her true passion was ceramics: In Guam, she trained at a ceramic potter’s studio, where she received international certification in ceramics and techniques including pouring and creating original molds.
By the 1990s Concetta’s family had grown, after giving birth in 1983 to a boy, the graphic designer and artist Andreà Cassar, and later a girl. At the time she and her family were living in the U.S. where, similar to the artwork created by her father Carmelo, Concetta’s works became heavily influenced by her local, immediate surroundings. She began to incorporate American themes and traditions into much of what she produced. Pieces created included Native American/Indian faces, southern country ducks and other American farm animals, as well as inanimate, practical pieces for kitchens and bathrooms. This period in her work is reflective of a more refined style, where she stopped using clear glazes altogether and instead used acrylics and varnish as a sealer.
Every time Concetta decided to experiment and explore, and change artistic styles, she would discuss the outcome with her son and father. She liked bouncing new ideas and testing them with her artist family members. This showed growth and a more sophistication to her ceramics.
Unfortunately, Concetta’s life came to a tragic halt at the age of 38, leaving her craft, and her family, behind. Over her lifetime she created over 500 ceramic pieces, mostly house wares and holiday pieces, ranging from ornate cookie jars and Christmas centerpieces, to essential home pieces like dish sets.