Ever Wondered Who Makes the Beautiful Stone Carvings You See All Around You? Bundles Scholar Chris Pellettieri Tells All

"I take every chance I can get to expose kids to this," Pellettieri said of the stone carving craft. 

Kelly Moffitt-Hawasly
April 07, 2023

On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, professional stone carver and A'Lelia Bundles Community Scholar Chris Pellettieri shared his path to stone carving and how he is helping youth in Upper Manhattan and all across New York City find a place in the trade during a Bundles Community Scholars Lecture at The Forum on Columbia's Manhattanville campus. 

A lifelong Uptown resident, Pellettieri has made it his life's work to train others in his craft. Pellettieri is the founder and executive director of Pellettieri Stone Carvers’ Academy, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting stone carving which offers training in traditional methods. After attending the Cathedral School and Stuyvesant High School, Pellettieri found his way to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine's Stoneyard, which opened in 1979 to teach and employ neighborhood residents as the newest parts of the cathedral were being built. 

"I take every chance I can get to expose kids to this," Pellettieri said during the lecture. "Stone carving is really hard, it takes a long time, a lot of practice. If you don't have a setting where other people are beginners too, it is easy to feel like 'I must be bad at this. Something must be wrong with me.' If you're supported by other people who are learning the same as you, you realize 'it's not me, it is just hard,' and you practice, you're diligent, you have guidance, and it is fun all the way, even when you're terrible at first."

Aboubacar Keita, an alumnus of the Pellettieri Stone Carvers' Academy, who has kept up with the craft, is now an intern with the Academy's Governors Island Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School program in collaboration with National Park Service. Keita was in attendance at the lecture and waved hello to the crowd. 

The A'Lelia Bundles Community Scholars Program, administered by Columbia University's Office of Government and Community Affairs and the School of Professional Studies, enables independent scholars to pursue their lifelong learning aspirations, whether it be completing an independent project or attaining skills in a particular area. The program helps to foster and deepen ties between the university and the many independent members of the cultural and intellectual community surrounding it. The program was named in honor of longtime University Trustee A’Lelia Bundles in 2020.

Pellettieri's project through the Bundles Scholars program is to develop skills and knowledge in support of Pellettieri Stone Carvers’ Academy, with the goal of being able to expand the training offerings.

You can watch the full lecture below and make sure you check out the full library of Bundles Scholars lectures here. 

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