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From Brokenness Comes Beauty

The redemptive power of Redento Raffinato

Author Ross Alan Hill does not consider himself an art aficionado. However, in his latest book, “Broken Pieces: Nothing Is Wasted,” Hill tells the story of how he found solace in a specific style of art known as Redento Raffinato while attempting to overcome many obstacles in his personal life.

Redento Raffinato, Italian for “redeemed elegance,” is a special type of blown glass art created from broken pieces of glass that fall onto the studio floor. In the past, these shards would be considered unusable and thrown away, becoming just another piece of waste — until the artists of Bella Forte Glass Studio, located in Edmond, Oklahoma, were inspired to remake these remnants into something beautiful.

Chris and Micah McGahan, the founders of Bella Forte and close friends of Hill, created an art form in which the fragments of glass are fused together and molded into gorgeous works of art in the form of towering, vibrant vases with a gleaming multitude of colors. The art is captivating in both its pure beauty and its power of symbolic redemption.

As a teenager, Hill was caught in the middle of a difficult custody battle in his parents’ divorce. Despite finding a renewed sense of hope in Christianity at age 17 and his devout faith in God, Hill still faced many problems in his adult life, in both his work and his own marriage. The author explains that he was immediately drawn to the spiritual symbolism of Redento Raffinato in connection with his faith.

“If we give our broken lives to God — he then remakes us into a human Redento Raffinato,” Hill said. “And just like the broken pieces that were once destined for the dump, God picks us up, in the midst of our brokenness, and re-shapes us into something totally unique, more beautiful than the original.”

Now, years later, Hill is the successful founder and CEO of Bank2 in Oklahoma City. He has placed his Redento Raffinato vase in his office, visible to all who enter — its strange beauty often incites curiosity in Hill’s visitors, who ask about the story behind it.

"I have shared the story of redemption with nearly 1,600 people in my office over the past 5 years — janitors, repairmen, the people that take care of the plants, employees, customers, millionaires, Governors, Senators and bank examiners, you name it,” Hill said.

“The response in my office has been remarkable. The response in the community has been outstanding.”

Hill uses the art of Redento Raffinato not only as a physical reminder of redemption in his personal life, but also in the goals of his work and career. Bank2’s mission statement is “Building Better Lives,” and Hill seeks to incorporate this theme in Bank2’s interpersonal relationships and business transactions.

“We respect our employees, customers, our friends and our community,” Hill said. “We know that brokenness is part of life, and when people are going through broken times, we try to be a friend.”

Hill’s own story, and the meaning behind the art of Redento Raffinato, has brought hope to many members of his community, and he hopes to share his story with even more people in his latest book.

Hill said that while people may find themselves in broken situations, they will always have the ability to pick themselves back up and create something new and beautiful.