Who is Dalton Ghetti?
Born in the big Brazilian city of Sao Paolo, Dalton Ghetti held his first razor blade when he was 5 or 6 years old. At that time, unlike now, he was using it to sharpen the pencils like all his classmates. His mother was a seamstress and when Dalton was 8 she taught him basic sewing skills to help her out by sewing clothes for people with her. Since that time these were the tools he preferred to use doing his artworks. A while later his parents bought him kid’s tool kit, which he started to experiment with making different boxes, toys and eventually building go-carts to compete with neighbors. After finishing school Dalton moved to the US and entered Norwalk Community Technical College, CT. He graduated with an associate’s degree in architecture. Although Dalton never finished any school of art, he says that art is “something that was always with me”. He always used to experiment with different materials and of course his favorite one at first was wood. Starting with large carvings his work evolved into really small sizes.
How it started?
Dalton Ghetti was always inspired by the small things that we tend not to pay attention to. Since he does a lot of outdoor activities he likes birds, animals and nature a lot. This is what partially pushed him to start doing small sculptures: “Mostly it’s a challenge to me because I can do anything big.” After he moved to the US in 1985 as Dalton explains himself he “didn’t have a lot of space and this is one of the reasons I was trying to figure out how small I could make things without a magnifying glass, just using my hands and my eyes”. After experimenting with other materials like soap, candles and chalk he started to sculpt things from wood and graphite and later stopped at simply using graphite. Usually the inspiration comes from the things around him that he “transfers into smaller things”. Dalton was doing carpentry for a living, and he continues to do it today, it means dealing with a lot of tools every day. One day he took a couple of pencils and started to carve his tool collection. His first graphite sculpture is called “Cheers”, 1996 – a hand holding a glass. Once the idea comes to Dalton, he either writes a word that would remind him of what he wanted to do or he draws a sketch.
How Dalton does it?
In the sketch stage Dalton draws a magnified version of the final sculpture and figures out where to start and further steps. Once he has it done he picks up a pencil and starts carving the project. His work space is very simple: a small room with a table in it. There are usually drawings of the project hanging in front of him. On the table there is a very small tool box with a few razor blades, sewing needles and pieces of metal. No radio, no TV on or any other kind of distraction, only a strong light coming out of the table lamp that helps him to work. Any projects starts with shaving off the wood to expose the graphite and then Dalton starts doing his magic to the graphite. The problem with this is that it’s almost impossible to work more than 1 – 1.5h. because the eyes get tired and he can’t concentrate. This is partially why it is not his primary job: “I don’t do it for money. I do it mostly as a hobby and a kind of meditation. It’s not every day that I can do it. It’s not every time that I can sit down and be able to carve something. It’s not every time that I feel inspired. Sometimes I don’t have a job, I don’t have anything going on. I have all the time in the world in my hands and I don’t feel like doing anything. Other times I have a job and I’m very busy. Then an idea comes to my head and I want to drop everything and start carving. So it’s very tricky how it works.”
His works are usually exhibited somewhere and have a little story behind them. Coming to the opening of the exhibition and walking around unnoticed and unrecognized as an artist he has a chance to look at people’s reactions: “People are amazed at it and it inspires me”. As Dalton notes himself he has always had a positive response from people. One piece that people “get intrigued by” is called “The Chain”. For a long time he used to live on the coasts and see docks with ships all around. And once the chain that connected the ship to the dock caught his attention: “The chain is something that has been used by people for a long time. It looks like a simple thing”. Dalton admits himself this one was the hardest to make. The other project he has finished is called “The Alphabet”. His friend, an elementary school teacher, used to always pick up pencils dropped by kids. Once she collected the whole bag of pencils and gave them to Dalton: “I grabbed it and I said: “Oh my God, what am I going to do with all of this””. He really liked the idea that all of those pencils were used up by somebody else and each of them had a certain character. Dalton one day got an idea of making an alphabet out of kids’ pencils. It took 2.5 years to complete the project by doing one letter per month. Another huge project that he finished not long ago is 9-11 Memorial. He tells a story behind it: “On that day I had to work early in the morning and somebody told me what has happened. The news was saying that it was an accident. Then I went to work, to do carpentry job nearby, and I asked the owner of the house to turn on the TV to see what is going on. And sure enough one of the twin towers is burning and suddenly another one got hit. The news started saying that we were under attack. I told them that I cannot work and I have to see a person I was dating. She was fine. From her school, where she was working, I went to Sherwood Island State Park, CT. From there I could see the twin towers burn. There was nothing in the sky except for line of smoke from burning towers. I felt really bad and I visualized myself in the buildings or in the plane and I got filled with sadness that broke me down and I started crying. I haven’t cried for a long time and now I was crying for people that died. The tears that came out of my eyes pretty much gave me an idea to create a tear drop”. It took him 10 years to make 3.000 rise-sized tear drops for every person that died that day. All teardrops create one big tear. The victims’ families were touched to tears by the memorial Dalton created.
Hobbies and followers
Dalton, himself, doesn’t have one work that he likes the most: “My favorite one is the one I’m working on” and he doesn’t have a specific artist that has a lot of influence on his work, even though he really like Salvador Dali paintings. At the moment Dalton is working on 4 different projects. He revealed a little secret that one of his projects is an animal collection. The first model was a giraffe. Besides carving Ghetti has a lot of hobbies. He has been couching volleyball team at Westport YMCA, CT for almost 20 years. Another hobby Dalton has is paragliding. It looks like a person is flying with a parachute but in reality it’s a wing: “I fly with the birds. That’s the most wonderful thing I’ve done in my life”. He likes to go camping, biking and hiking to the places where he can also fly. He climbs on the top of a mountain and takes off: “It’s almost like surfing but in the air”.
Every year Dalton is invited by teachers to schools and colleges to give lectures and as he says he already has quite a lot of followers: “ Usually students that hear my talk come up to me and show me something that they did or teachers tell me that some of the students were trying to carve a pencil. That’s not how you start it!”.
Dalton to You
All of his works contain a specific message in them: “It’s about being patient. We are so busy in the world that everything has to be done really fast. The slower I work the better my chances of having the graphite still attached. Sometimes I try to work really fast and it breaks. All that time is wasted…So the message is about patience”. In his advice to all beginner artists and young people in general Dalton Ghetti adds: “My advice would be: to be patient. Related to what I do the first thing you have to do is to follow your ideas and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t mean you should give it up. You should always go ahead and try in a different way. When my piece breaks it is always learning. I think about it and next time I will try to create the same thing in a different way. It’s about being patient but also persistent about what you want to do. Failure is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.”