Ann DiGiovanni

I was the little kid with the ratty copy of The Giant Golden Book of Dinosaurs that I hauled everywhere. In the days of 3 channels of black and white television, its illustrations were a window into an exotic and fascinating world. My grandmother had an overstuffed humped-back couch. I would sit on the back of it and imagine I was riding what was, at that time, known as a brontosaurus, my favorite dinosaur. I remember wanting not just to see these amazing creatures, but touch them and stand in those illustrations and hear the sounds and smell the smells, way, way back, closer to the roots of the world.

I was lucky enough to be born in the Pittsburgh area, which even then boasted a wonderful collection of museums. One of my favorite Saturday activities was a trip to the Carnegie Library, followed by a visit to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Hall of Dinosaurs. In those pre-renovation days, it was dim and mysterious, as a door into the distant past should be, and I loved it. Something wild and extraordinary lived in there that leavened the 1950s suburban world.

Over the years, our family moved and I lost my connection to the Hall of Dinosaurs and in one of the pack-and-move cycles, my book disappeared. As I grew, the topics changed, but I was able to retain the curiosity and wonder that had been at the root of my dinosaur period. It morphed into an interest in how people develop and connect and in what those things were that made us who we are, at the roots of our lives. This interest guided me as I attended Earlham College and the University of Pennsylvania and became an Occupational Therapist. My career has given me ample opportunity to be curious and to wonder and to connect, and I count myself lucky to have found my way there. Quiltmaking, a parallel passion, has given me an appreciation of color, design, the interplay of the greater art world within a particular discipline and the value of a tangible result of the work of our hands. Again, I count myself lucky; this time to have experienced the rewards of pursuing a skill to the point of mastery and, in so doing, drawing closer to the creative roots of my own life.

Some years ago, decades after the dinosaur book was lost, my friend Rick Hellman showed me a fossil plate he had just purchased. The creature in the plate was small, but had all the things that the kid with the dinosaur book thought dinosaurs should have: teeth, claws, a certain ferocity. This creature had lived, not with my fantasy saddle-brontosaurus, but at another point on the long road to now, nearer to the roots of the world. I was holding this amazing thing, from a time I could barely wrap my head around, connected through the overwhelming complex and magnificent dance that is the development of life on this planet. And the wonder was back.

It is my hope, in being part of PaleoElegance, to offer you not just magnificent, scientifically significant specimens from our fossil record, but to feed your curiosity, connect you to the roots of life on our planet, and share the awe and wonder of a kid with a dinosaur book.

Who is PaleoElegance?

Meet Rick Hellman

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Phone: 215-873-4381