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Max Mara showcases children’s therapeutic art to combat mental illness

June 5, 2015

Various artists, Atelier dell’Errore "The Huge Iron-Spider from Curnasco" Various artists, Atelier dell’Errore "The Huge Iron-Spider from Curnasco"


Family-owned Italian apparel and accessories label Max Mara is supporting the efforts of the children's neuropsychiatry department at the public hospital in Reggio Emilia with an exhibit showcasing the creativity of the young patients.

“Uomini come Cibo,” or Humans as Food, displays 40 works created by children in visual art laboratory Atelier dell’Errore, meant to be a companion to the clinical treatment at Reggio Emilia showing their ideas of fantastical creatures that might eat humans. Hosting the exhibit, presented in partnership with Collezione Maramotti, in the brand's hometown, enables Max Mara to give back to its community and the citizens who are its neighbors.

"From the beginning of this year the collection gave a workspace to the Atelier dell'Errore BIG in its building," said Marina Dacci, director at Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy.

"Collezione Maramotti supports research and creativity in all their forms and approaches," she said. "The works of these children are amazing and full of energy and they express a strong and pure creativity that deserves a support.

"The definition of 'social sculpture' around this project is really correct because the method is based on sharing the creative process. So at the same time the members of Atelier can express their personal creativity and they can learn to collaborate using and exchanging the singles artistic abilities to produce art pieces."

Imagined ecosystem
Humans as Food is being put on in partnership with Collezione Maramotti, the independent private modern art collection of Max Mara founders and owners the Maramotti family. The collection is housed in Reggio Emilia, the town in which Max Mara began and still operates.

Presented during Expo Milano, the exhibit takes the event’s theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” and turns it upside down. This turns men from those in power to an object used to nourish and sustain animals.

Many of the center’s participants experience anxiety surrounding relationships and interactions. In creating the art, the children had to face their fears, in turn creating a visual ally and a means to defend themselves and be stronger in the real world.


Various artists, Atelier dell’Errore "Night Avenger Devours Classmates I get close and they go away and say I stink

"[The exhibit will get people talking] because the show speaks about animals and their strange imaginary shapes but - above all - about the fears, the way in which is possible to protect themselves in the real life through these protectors," Ms. Dacci said. "It's a very original way to question themselves, an introspective journey inside of our intimate personality."

This exhibit’s theme was chosen based on the artwork. Rather than having an assignment or prompt imposed, the children were able to create with freedom.

The children’s drawings will be on display at Via Monte di Pietà from June 18 through Sept. 15. The exhibit is open by invitation and reservation only.

Made to look random and unintentional, the pictures are scattered over the five floors of the building, hung in boxes made of scrap wood. Many of them take up multiple pages, held together with tape.


Paolo, Atelier dell’Errore "Dog Pound Attackerist eats Mafists and Policemen and RueRue"

The drawings are organized to create a form of ecosystem among the imagined beasts, taking visitors from underground to the sea and sky.

While the exhibit is taking place, Max Mara will be selling a special shopping bag that incorporates drawings from the exhibit in its stores in Milan. All proceeds from the $17 bag will go toward the Atelier dell’Errore.

Those that purchase the tote will receive a leaflet about the project and an invitation to the exhibit.

Art for a cause

Max Mara has previously shown its dedication to art.

The label was involved in the Whitney’s reopening through the design of a limited-edition handbag.

Its Whitney handbag, shared via social media by Max Mara, was made in a numbered series of 250 and designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The architect’s team was directly inspired by the “pure design and sophisticated materials” of the museum’s new home and is considered a “homage to architectural mastery and Italian creativity” (see story).

Children’s charities are universally understood to be a priority, and luxury brands have heeded the cause.

Italian fashion label Missoni is helping children in the fight against pediatric cancers through the sale of a capsule collection available at Italy’s La Rinascente department store.

Sisters Margherita and Teresa Maccapani Missoni are participating in the Fondazione Veronesi’s Gold for Kids project which aims to fund clinical studies for childhood cancers and educate children about the diseases and their treatments. Working for a cause, especially one that afflicts children, will humanize the Missoni brand and will likely leave an impression on the young patients and their families during a difficult time (see story).

The exclusive nature of this exhibit offers visitors a more intimate experience.

"It's a journey, a very special journey," Ms. Dacci said. "We have conceived a visit-format in which the viewer is accompanied by special guide through the spaces of the building in a kind of performance. So it's necessary to have small groups of people at time."

Final Take
Sarah Jones, staff reporter on Luxury Daily, New York