By Marcy Shortuse and Emerson Wickwire
Photos by Marcy Shortuse and provided by Emerson Wickwire
The works of island resident Emerson Wickwire are about as close to being symbolic of Boca Grande
as you can get. He spends hours working on his unique art in his Boca Grande Isles studio, and it
is an art form that originated in Florence, Italy many hundreds of years ago. The time spent on his
intricate work is light years apart from his former occupation in finance, but there is no doubt his
enthusiasm for both is matched.
It was more than 30 years ago when Emerson discovered his love for a fusion of two Florentine artistic
traditions – paper and boxes. Since the 17th century Florence artisans have perfected a very distinctive
type of heavy art paper, and also emerging as a discrete art form during The Renaissance Period was the
specialty box, or “cofanetto,” made to contain and keep safe the valuables of nobility. Using Florentine
paper Emerson creates mirrors, small tables and the decorative cofanettos he loves so much.
“Since my pieces are interpretations of Renaissance
Florentine arts, I subtitled my moniker ‘The Florentine
Box’ as ‘cofanetti di fantasia,’ ” he said.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he spent his secondary
school years in suburban Pittsburgh where he recalls
his scholastic interests as split between his competing