A Student’s Healing Art: Helping to Lessen the Void

“Melancolie” by Albert György. Click to enlarge.

“It was understood between the two of us just how much this meant.”

When Kelly Collamati, Assistant to the President and long-time Bishop Hendricken staff member, was scrolling through Facebook last year, she came across something that portrayed a pain she knew all too well.

On her screen was “Melancolie,” a sculpture by Swiss artist, Albert György. An all-copper piece that resides in Geneva, it depicts a seemingly defeated figure slumped over on a park bench, an all-encompassing hole where its heart should be.

In 2017, Kelly lived every parent’s worst nightmare. In March of that year, she received news that her daughter, Kaitlin, had passed away. Kaitlin’s life was tragically cut short at just 25 years of age, leaving Kelly and her family with an emptiness that felt as vast as the void in György’s sculpture.

With the discovery of this artwork, and its message resonating on a poignantly personal level, Kelly tried to find a replica. After searching every online store and retailer she could think of with no luck, she brought the sculpture to John Costa, then-Visual Art teacher, with the hope of recreating the piece.

When Costa presented the sculpture as an option for one of his Arts Academy students to take on as a quarterly project, Casey McQuesten ’21 stepped up.

Casey McQuesten’s ’21 version of György’s piece. Click to enlarge.

“Mr. Costa brought the piece to me saying there was someone in the school that wanted it,” said Casey. “He didn’t tell me who it was, but he showed me the statue and explained its meaning.”

With the project in hand, Casey began his work.

In a process that took about a month from start to finish, he began with the statue’s bench. Cardboard rolls served as the perfect tool to shape the clay seat. The legs and feet came next, features that were easy to build off the established base, according to Casey. From there, work began on the finer characteristics of the figure: the exposed torso, bent arms, and drooping head.

“After I did the basic structure, I looked at more of the details. I sculptured toes on the feet, fingers on the hands, and took away clay from areas to give them more shape and dimension,” described Casey.

After nearly a week of drying, a firing in the kiln, another drying period, a sterling silver finishing glaze, and one last trip to the kiln, the piece was complete.

“I didn’t find out who it was for until the end,” said Casey. “Mr. Costa asked me if I wanted to know who it was going to, and I said, ‘Sure.'”

It was in Casey’s hand-delivering the piece to Kelly that made the art so meaningful to the both of them.

Casey ’21 and Kelly Collamati. Click to enlarge.

After explaining the significance of György’s work to him, Kelly and Casey came to a teary-eyed silence, each knowing how special this new connection was. “It was understood between the two of us just how much this meant,” said Kelly.

“She told me all about what it was for,” recounted Casey. “The sculpture was something that was really close to her, and it was something that she was really going to appreciate.”

“It means the world to me,” expressed Kelly. “For a sophomore boy to know that this was such a strong situation and still be brave enough to present it to me was amazing. I was proud of him.”

Kelly now proudly displays the piece in her office, alongside a photo of her two daughters. To Casey, knowing the impact his art has made means a lot.

“When I make a piece, it’s usually for me; to make something and make it look good. To know that she’s going to have that on her desk, and it means so much…it’s a whole different thing.”