Ceramica Ability



Cava de’ Tirreni SA Italy

Anna Rita Fasano

We all know that ceramic is a unique tool for helping people rediscover their creative potential, for acquiring autonomy and for facing the one’s individual growth’s challenges of transformation, evolution and development. The project, mostly self-funded, was launched in 2015. It is aimed at the psycho-physical well-being of disabled people in order to promote work as a way of bringing together people, so to highlight the therapeutic and social effects that can derive from handling clay, and in particular, the fulfillment of their own potential. Pandora Ability aims at disabled people with a two-fold approach, engaging them professionally with ceramic occupational work and socially with training courses supporting an "independent life". Our skilled artists have designed an educational and therapeutic project that includes training courses, social time, self-development coupled with exhibition, cultural and recreational activities (spending together the summer holiday). It will instill their interest in knowing more about artistic and handicraft ceramics, applied arts in order to support their personal, educational and professional realization and autonomy. Ceramics art isn't used for its own sake, but as a mean to create, stimulate, remember, reconstruct one's identity, restore one's existential balance; ceramics itself becomes an educational means of respecting oneself as well as the other mirroring its ambivalent characteristic: "resistance in fragility" which is the very element of ceramics. Thanks to the young people who, after years of learning have mastered their skills and are independent to a certain extent, a new path of integration within the group is born. The fundamental ingredients of which are the sensitivity and the joy of sharing, which support the new comers as well those young people with heavier disabilities and welcome them in a serene, cheerful environment that makes them feel important, safe, at ease and stimulate their creativity. Our way of seeing and conceiving diversity is a welcoming way, where they can find serenity, being with themselves. It is not about entertaining them for a few hours to keep them busy. The point is to make them take part, to be the protagonists: a well from which we can make emerge and discover their gifts, their skills while being different, all are gifted. The point is to make those gifts emerge, without prejudices or pro-forma rules. Fundamental ingredients are mainly love, patience, enthusiasm for each of them. They infuse an infinity of messages of receptiveness, of learning and wanting to do, each of them in their own way: it is essential to understand how to perceive their “know-how”, in order to transform it, to shape it and make their soul emerge. Their wonderful ceramic creations contain and transmit that pure soul, full of love from which each of us can draw on to infinity. Pandora Ability represents for those boys and girls, for myself and for my colleagues an anchorage, a stimulus for creativity, an opportunity to see with different eyes and hands, both strength and courage when facing difficulties, a place to find energy and strength even in dark times. The kids are now part of our life, they have mastered sensing our feelings thus they flood us with their kindness and love, with words full of sincerity, letters, hugs, caresses and messages that make you feel "special". While they are the "special ones": they are gifted in learning not only making art, but also feeling emotions and giving without ulterior motives. These boys and girls compete to make you feel unique. You often identify with each of them, becoming their friend, their sister, their confidant. In this pandemic period, unfortunately the days dedicated have decreased to about six hours per week; they alternate between days of working with the clay and those decorating. A well-structured course, starting from sensory and visual stimulation, aims to develop manual skills, the ability to independently manage a task, as well as the definition of one's own style. For each of the phases of the designed methodology that we provide and the realization of their ideas, the boys and girls use suitable tools according to their disability. Sometimes the tools are specifically designed for each individual student, so to enable their creation work: prototypes are created with their presence, providing shapes, pre-printed cutouts etc. Skilled artists immediately memorize and recreate them, putting their creativity into it. And woe to forget some steps! They scold you like real masters. The prototypes and projects begin to take shape, the object is transformed and becomes unique thanks to their ingenuity and their imagination. The rules are fundamental, from the beginning to the end of the course; in this period of health emergency every day begins as a ritual, divided by pre-scheduled actions. They take the agenda and write down who enters one at a time and follow each one step by step, so that everyone carries out the phases of disinfection and temperature measurement, washing of the hands and distancing. Each one is regularly checked randomly by one of the so-called veterans of the studio and those who know how to write. They are supervised and monitored by Mila Benincasa who together with Enza della Femmina are in charge of the group. Mila and Enza are both active members of Pandora Ability as well as mothers of some of our apprentices. Together with Salvatore Passeretta they are altogether fundamental and irreplaceable figures, who support and help me in this beautiful project. The precision and prudence in proceeding like clockwork in all phases have become almost pathological in my students: it all begins with the tidying of materials and their tools. Each of them is responsible for a sector, for the rearrangement and cleaning of the studio. Mario and Gaetano, the eldest of the group, usually arrive much earlier with their usual smile and make good-natured jokes and little indiscretions about themselves and their friends, letting us participate. They begin, like site managers, to bring the studio to life. Then we begin to set the studio, each with its own task: Carmen, Anna, Giovanna, Marika, Maurizio and Roberta position the wooden boards and the seats, which in this period are well spaced and occupy the two large rooms of the headquarters, then the distribution of the material that will be used for the daily schedule, slabs of clay cut to perfection, placed on their own wooden board and all the necessary tools, none is forgotten, they monitor and prompt each other when something is missing! Then, when it is a day dedicated to decoration, the tables are set, along with all the necessary tools that could be of use, glazepots display create colorful palettes, they place their personal artistic creations with the rigor of someone who knows and also acknowledges the creative work of each friend. During the decoration phase, more than in any other, they release their imagination that is supported by their mastery of the material, brushing different layers of color and waiting for me to give them the green light for the last step. Then they help me to glaze the artifacts with the crystalline; or otherwise skillfully assist with third firing which makes their works even more beautiful and precious. The studio gradually fills with joy, whispers, laughter and the kids who keep arriving and here again Giuseppe, Simone, Flora, Miriam, Fabrizio, Antonella who gradually position themselves in their places: and here the magic of their know-how begins! The design project is often inspired by the seasonal theme of the year, that can be Christmas, Easter, the summer season etc. Yesterday, for example in this period, they proposed to create something for Valentine's Day: yes, because the artists are all in love and want to show off for that day, a personalized gift of their own! So, let's get started, someone takes the textures, another the plaster casts, the molds, the shapes and the rolling pins and here under our watchful supervision we help the not completely autonomous children and with laughter, music in the background, the skilled hands start to mold each with their own ability. They create different shapes, each of them owning their distinctive feature: "The heart" added with love and without parsimony in their artifacts. It is enchanting in those hours, which fly carefree, to hear our names echoing several times, asking for advice and showing us what they are creating, and sometimes even scolding us. It is nice to see how they help each other, with an endearing smile and infinite patience, without ever getting tired. And here the artifacts begin to take shape, all filled with a positive, cheerful energy. The works for the most parts are very precise and clean. Those few who are a little shapeless (even those) take on meaning and strength, because they have been created by the most fragile ones. It's about time to end the day and tidy, if they could they would still stay for hours to create and stay together. Each of them, gradually, puts his/her work back on the shelf, cleaning and tidying their own work position. And here begins the deafening and engaging chatter while preparing a last snack, sadly still all spaced apart, while the bell begins to ring and here come the parents to bring them back home, and they, with a long and sad face, are already asking when will we see each other again. I am proud of all of them: they are pure energy and show boundless, almost disarming imagination. The thirteen skilled artists within the Pandora association are privileged members, involved in all our activities: in exhibitions, events, workshops, trips etc. Their training experience is often enriched with the presence of some artists from Associazione Pandora Artiste-Ceramiste, including for example our international members, such as our Pandora associate from Iran Dorna Abiak, or for example training courses on different techniques with Loredana Avagliano, Elvira Peduto, Claudia Altavilla, Rosa Tipaldi, Maria Luisa Aiello, Francesca Nardino etc., which we will resume as soon as the pandemic gives some respite. A path that is not only therapeutic but also recreational training, of true integration, capable of giving participants the opportunity to talk about themselves with art, have fun and socialize. This project methodology is expanding and is being replicated by some of the Associazione Pandora Artiste-Ceramiste members in various Italian cities (e. g. Elisa Simonelli - Milan and Alessandra Di Marco - Rome). In 2019 along with the boys and girls associated with the project we started an additional project that was taking place in local schools and in our studio. In that case, they were the one and only protagonists in charge of teaching able-bodied children; an extremely gratifying and concrete project that acknowledged their autonomy and witnessed their self-esteem, making them stronger and proud of their know-how. Thankfully, their parcours and artistic works are today known and appreciated by many people who follow them and compete for their works. Thus, permitting to pay for the training cost and for the ceramic materials expenditure which, as we know, is quite significant. Pandora Ability is an extremely rewarding and above all very concrete project, which encourages the participant's autonomy and self-esteem, making them more resolute and prouder of their know-how. My goal is to be able to raise the necessary financial fundings and economical support to create a cooperative, as well as a large studio in order to finally see their aspirations and their parents’ expectations fulfilled. Dreams, you know, have no handicaps. It is crucial we enable them to live a happier life in the future, by presently concretely supporting the development of their skills to live an independent life.


Pandora Ability is a self-financed project, started in 2015, with the aim of integrating people with disabilities into a specific social and working experience in the ceramic field. It includes training courses, time of socializing and selfdevelopment, exhibitions, cultural and recreational activities and social projects of "Independent life".



Artifacts made by Pandora Ability kids. Slab work, textures and casts with white clay, colored oxides and crystalline.

Detail of a slab work panel with textures and casts. Crystalline and pure gold third-fire firing.

Anna Falcone,Carmen Apuzzo, Giovanna Sicignano Angri, SA Italia "The new road" Slab work, texture and casts. Crystalline and pure gold third-fire firing.

Group veterans teach newcomers some steps to create artifacts. Group photo of some of the trainees.


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