We had the good fortune of connecting with Barbara and Sandra Stella and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Barbara and Sandra, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe in life we need to have the courage to take risks in order to advance both on a personal level and in our career. I had my own business for 20 years in Ferrara, Italy, when I decided to leave the Country and move to Canada for two years, and then to the USA, where I have been since. My art conservation business in Italy was very successful. I was well established and performed conservation treatments for the minister of cultural heritage, as well as public and private institutions that included museums, churches and private collections. I even taught classes at the graduate level in art for the Ministry of Education, and more.
Yet, since the Italian economy wasn’t doing very well and having had my first-born son, I decided to take the risk to leave everything behind and start from zero in a new Country. I didn’t even speak a word of English when I left Italy! All my friends and colleagues kept questioning my choice, they couldn’t understand why I would take such a risk when I was so successful, some friends even criticized me. That didn’t stop me… Deep down I knew that it was the right thing to do for my family and I had to listen to my gut feeling, not to other people’s fears. And so I did. I collected my 30 boxes of books and most importantly my courage, and with my husband and my 5 years old son we landed in a new Country. Of course it wasn’t easy. Stepping out of one’s own comfort zone is never easy, but is the only way to make profound changes.
Eleven years later, I now have a very successful art conservation studio in West Palm Beach, a happy family who is enjoying living in Florida, and I am living my American Dream. Meanwhile, unfortunately, Italy continues to struggle economically, and the unemployment rate continues to ramp up. Today I am grateful I had the courage to take that risk because that enabled me to create a better life for my family and my kids can have a better future.
In my life I have taken many risks, some successful, others… well, not so much. I can truly say that in this lifetime I have lived five different lives. Every time it was a jump in the unknown and a major risk, but I always believed in what I was doing and that helped me quench my fears and let courage take the lead. Please, don’t let fears stop you, you are in control of your future, not them.
So, what role did risk-taking play in my life? It helped me evolve as a person and as a professional, and most importantly it made me who I am today.
Little matters if some risks don’t work out the way you wanted, they still help you go towards your destination. I know mines did!
At the age of 19 y.o. I left Italy to study in England. Starting from zero and attending a university in a foreign language was a true challenge, but it gave me the confidence to know that with determination and a burning desire, everything is possible. As Audrey Hepburn once said: ~Nothing is impossible. The word itself says “I’m possible”.
It’s exactly that belief that pushed me to go to West Africa at the age of 25, where I lived for 10 years. I wanted to change the world. Of course I didn’t change the world as we know it, but I did change my own world, and although the experience scarred me in some levels, it enriched me in many others. Was it worth taking the risk of changing my happy life in England to devote myself to “changing a world I didn’t actually change”? I have wondered at times, but the answer is: Yes! Absolutely. The life-lessons I learned made me who I am today.
I left Africa at the age of 34 y.o. At that point I was a single mom with two young kids aged 4 and 2 y.o. I could have gone back to Italy, where my family was and where I would have had a support system to help me, but I decided to take a risk … yet again. I went to live in Canada, where I felt my children would have had a better future. It was so hard to be alone in a foreign country, with two very young children, no family to help me, no friends at first and I had to adapt to a job position that was far from being ideal. I accepted the challenge, and most importantly I didn’t look back blaming the fact that I took a difficult risk. Instead, I viewed it as an incredible opportunity that I needed to build upon. As human beings we need to keep evolving in order to have a meaningful life, it is our choice to go forward and use challenges as a stepping stone, or to jump in the lake to drown.
Finally, my latest risk was almost three years ago, when I moved to West Palm Beach. Although I can honestly say that … this wasn’t really a risk, it was simply the best decision I could make. I found happiness here and so did my children.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
At Stella Art Conservation we are specialized in museum-quality art conservation and restoration of paintings, sculptures, artifacts and, other artworks, from ancient to contemporary. We are committed to excellence to ensure that all our conservation works keep museum-quality standards with the created works, bringing them back to their original glory as the artist intended.
Our expert art conservators have many years of study in traditional as well as innovative fine art conservation techniques and have an extensive experience in art restoration. Our rigorous scientific and technical skills combined with our mastery of craftmanship including our art market knowledge, enable us to restore even the most challenging highly damaged artworks. We respect a meticulous approach to art conservation and we stringently use methodologies approved by the American Institute for Conservation and by the (European) Institution of Preservation of Artistic and Historical Works.
Our Chief Art Conservator, Barbara Stella, is an established name in the art conservation world, known for her intelligent and informed approach to art restoration and conservation. In the span of her 30-year career, she has performed treatments on artworks by prestigious artists such as Rembrandt, Monet, Salvador Dali, Kenneth Noland, Joan Miro’, Magritte and more. Barbara is an award-winning art conservator, who won the prestigious Addison Mizner Award, Fine Arts category, granted by the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art.
Barbara is a professional associate of the American Institute for Conservation and she stringently follows its rules and regulations. In addition, she is one of few art conservators in the U.S. fully trained to use nanotechnology in art conservation for the treatment of very sensitive artworks. Barbara is a native of Italy and has an advanced degree in fine art conservation from the Institute of Fine Art and Restoration, Palazzo Spinelli in Florence, Italy.
At Stella Art Conservation, we also offer collection care services to ensure a better preservation of our clients’ art. We can help them put into application the correct preventive conservation to ensure the safeguard of their artworks.
We are highly committed to offering a personalized and discreet client relationship and we always remain available to providing assistance and support. Artworks are our clients’ treasures and our commitment to them is to ensure they will be preserved for future generations to come.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Our parents, Anna Maria Bellini and Gabriele Stella Barbara’s husband, Osti Stefano
Our friend and colleague, Larry Abbate and his wife Dede
Our team and all our clients, because they make our success possible