Shelley and Michael Buonaiuto met while studying sculpture and painting at the University of Massachusetts in 1968.
After a few vagabond years, their spiritual search led them to the study of Gurdjieff, a Greek Caucasian spiritual master, at Chardavogne Barn in New York. There Shelley began to study pottery, making creches and small figures, and Michael, after a few years as a stone mason (in debt to his Italian ancestry) joined her in 1975, after the birth of their first child, Ben. Besides sculpting, Michael was a skilled mold-maker.
After a second child, Nina, Michael and Shelley began to dream in Spanish, so they sold their house and headed to South America for seven months with Ben and Nina, then 8 and 5, before settling in Santa Fe, NM. in 1984, where they lived for 23 years. In Santa Fe, they started a cookie jar company, made bronzes and then started a line of bonded porcelain figures, while continuing to work in clay. Mia, the third child, was born in 1987.
Ben and Sage, his wife, moved to Fayetteville, AR and started their own line of art which can be seen at www.cicadabooks. com. Three years later Michael, Shelley and Mia followed them there to joyfully participate in the raising of the grandchild, Ari. Nina and her husband, John, are also expecting a baby in February, 2009. They live and teach in China. Mia is studying at U of AF.
Here in Fayetteville, Shelley and Michael have a larger studio and continue work in clay, bronze and resin. The new large bronzes "Alternative Energies" were commissioned for a park in Loveland, CO and "Wind" from that series won Best of Show at The Rivermarket Show in Little Rock in 2007 and was bought to be displayed in an apartment building in Little Rock. Shelley spends several months a year producing new one-of-a-kind clay pieces and also takes commissions for portraits. Michael and Shelley hope to add to both the Friends series and the Street Party series of resins in the next year.