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The 2020 exhibition catalogue 'Victoria Slichter: The Oltrarno Gaze', features evocative portraits by the US expat artist in Florence.

The Oltrarno of San Frediano, one of the cities most typical neighborhoods is where she made her home. Through her vivid portraits, she tells the story of a neighborhood that is much like a seaport, in all its inclusiveness and vitality. “I see portraiture as a vocation.” This is Victoria Slichter’s starting point. “It’s about leaving future generations a clue as to how we looked and acted. The Oltrarno Gaze is a portrait series with different sitters, but they all say the same thing to me: we are all in this together and we all deserve to be seen. The refugee, the man who lives on lottery tickets not food – everyone has a story worth telling. The ordinary working folk, the chimneysweep, the woman who fries coccoli, the shoemaker. To me, portraiture can be summed up in the question: ‘What are you thinking, now that you are safely on canvas?’ And so, our conversations are sown and grow. This is why I fall in love with the person once they are inside the picture.”

Quote from the book:

Reflections on the Arno

As ever, the Arno cuts through the two halves of Florence – most often a serene backdrop to scullers but, at times, an angry torrent threatening to overflow its banks – defining the city’s geography, shaping its history and reflecting its tragedies and triumphs. Life on the ‘other side of the river’ has been characterized by its separateness, by hardship and even by notoriety, but also by resilience and solidarity. The diverse individuals represented in Victoria Slichter’s portraits recall the creativity and resourcefulness of the earliest inhabitants of the Oltrarno, as well as this area’s ongoing commitment to the spirit of community. – Margie MacKinnon


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