Guido Dettoni della Grazia creates sculptures with his hands for a greater purpose: peace. Dettoni is an Italian sculptor and artist, but also the creator of the “Global Peace Network.” As a monumental move for this peace network, Dettoni held a “Peace Gathering” at Hofstra University, New York in May 2017. This was a first for the United States. This gathering was just one of many events in a series “Encounters to Manifest Peace” put on by Dettoni and his Peace Network.
The Association of Italian American Educators (AIAE) warmly welcomed Dettoni at Hofstra, inviting him to further participate in lectures, a gala, and a radio program. While co-hosting the radio program, Dettoni explained what to expect of the gathering since people may have very different ideas. It was not an event of intense discussion or even meditation. Rather, the gathering was centered around sculpting with blindfolds.
“Handsmatter” is the official name of the process that Dettoni pioneered in the 1970s. It is pretty simple and relies entirely on the senses. One is given a piece of warm, pliable wax when they are wearing a blindfold over their eyes. The participant entirely relies on their feeling of touch to create the final structure. When done, Dettoni took the pieces and placed them in cold water to harden. When people removed their blindfolds they could not discern which piece was theirs with their eyes – they had to go by touch.
Dettoni says that “handsmatter” can be spiritual and therapeutic due to the heightened use of senses. He feels that the sculptures are meant to be felt by people who view them.
“Through their own hands, everyone will express his or her feelings of peace and desires for peace. It’s as if it were a prayer that became tactile.”
The room came to life with discussion after the sculpting when the participants could talk about the experience. They were friendly and transparent with their feelings. People of both American and Italian cultures were coming together despite their differences and language barrier. The United States’ first “Peace Gathering” was clearly a success with peace not only evident in the sculptures, but in the air as well.