Roma: Sketchbooks and Drawings from the 2015 AU Department of Art & Art History’s Art in Rome Study Abroad showcases artwork by students responding to living in Rome for five weeks. Additionally the exhibition showcases ephemera collected by the students abroad; mementos, menus, souvenirs, pictures, and newspapers, which reflect their overall experiences. The combination of artwork and materials from Rome provides a compelling argument for the rich social and cultural experience to be gained from studying abroad. Students who participated in the program will be available during the closing reception on Friday, October 23rd to answer questions and provide personal anecdotes about their adventures.
Unrest: a feeling of disturbance or dissatisfaction in a person. Within all of us, unrest prevents sleep, peace, and ease; however, we often bury these emotions within, choosing instead to showcase an untroubled version of our lives to each other. The .gifs I, II, and III represent the unease within everyone, demonstrating the various yet connected reasons for chaos affecting all humans.
Houses for family, hands for relationships, flowers for romance. The symbols of the causes of our anxiety grow out of each girl, only to retreat back under calm appearances. Furthermore, background elements fading in and out supplement the symbolism. Fighting dogs flash before the flowers in I, hinting at the often violent nature of romance. Hands pulling apart a curtain in II indicates the tension of in relationships. An abstract, geometric form signals the boundaries and constriction inherent in home in III. In brief moments, eyes become obscured to heighten the disconnect between individuals. Each .gif of a nondescript girl loops infinitely, reflecting the unceasing cycle of inner turmoil.
Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota’s installation The Key in Hand at the Japan Pavilion
While traveling through Venice, my number one priority was spending as much time as possible at the 2015 Venice Biennale. I spent three days stuffing myself with art: one day at the Arsenale, one day at Giardini, and one day hunting out the free venues peppered around Venice. I was so lucky to see Ursula von Rydingsvard’s work installed in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. She has long been my favorite sculptor, yet I hadn’t seen her work in person. It was an unexpected sighting, materializing on a walk along the south edge of Venice. After the initial gasp and fan-girling (as well as a few tears), I calmed down and was able to really enjoy examining her work up-close. This Biennale is so massive, so eclectic, so compelling that to describe it in a simple blog post would taint the memory. The exhibitions are so big, the only way to make it through it all is by only stopping to look at a piece if it truly interests you. Projectors, new technology, and elaborate installations seemed to dominate; only a few countries presented paintings and photos. The experience left me with a mess of pamphlets and a whirling mind of new ideas to explore.
The Rape of Proserpina (1621-1622) “inaugurated a new era in the history of European sculpture” according to art historian Rudolf Wittkower. Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew to Pope Paul V, commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to create the sculpture to decorate in his massive Villa Borghese. Personally, this sculpture is one of my all-time favorites.
The Rape of Proserpina – detail
Pluto, god of the underworld, violently drags Proserpina to Hades in order to make her the Queen of the Underwold. At only 23 years old, Bermini carved a sculpture so realistic that photographs of Pluto’s hands are often mistaken for real life. Veins and tendons strain as Pluto’s fingers dig in to Proserpina’s skin. Tears drip down her face while Pluto’s three-headed dog, Cerberus, snaps at her feet.
The Rape of Proserpina – detail
Today, the Rape of Proserpina can be seen in the Galleria Borghese, the museum created out of the extravagant private collection of Cardinal Borghese. The opulence of the room containing the sculpture initially makes focusing difficult. Fellow tourists push and stick their camera-phones in the air, threatening to knock you in to one of the marble busts lining the room.
In an empty room, the movements of Pluto and Proserpina violently explode in to space. The push-and-pull of their bodies strain the air. After a while of watching, you have to wonder what Borghese must have felt like when he rounded a corner, headed to breakfast, with this marvel in his sitting room. Could he ever walk by the work without pausing? Definitely not.
Shannon Bewley with Pauline Bonaparte by Antonio Canova
Bonus: Me, with Pauline Bonaparte by Antonio Canova
This week I assisted one of my mentors, Zdenko Krtic (website here), with installing his newest show at the Gallery of Art, which is a part of the Temple University Rome program. It was really phenomenal to work with an artist who has completed two artist residencies with the American Academy in Rome. For this show, he created beautiful encausted works on paper. The show, Verneal Pools, opens Wednesday June 3 from 7 to 9 pm, and then May 31 through June 12, 2015.
Vernal Pools at Gallery of Art Temple University Rome
This week I assisted one of my mentors, Zdenko Krtic (website here), with installing his newest show at the Gallery of Art, which is a part of the Temple University Rome program. It was really phenomenal to work with an artist who has completed two artist residencies with the American Academy in Rome. For this show, he created beautiful encausted works on paper. The show, Verneal Pools, opens Wednesday June 3 from 7 to 9 pm, and then May 31 through June 12, 2015. More information can be found here.
Pentecost at the Pantheon
Pentecost at the Pantheon
I also attended the wonderful Pentecost Mass at the Pantheon. While I stood for three hours waiting for the dropping of the rose petals, ever second was worth it. The choir filled the room; it was amazing to be able to observe the Pantheon for an extended period of time. Now whenever I walk by the Pantheon on my way to my favorite art supply store, I am struck by a strange feeling of familiarity with this ancient landmark.
The Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica
Today was insane, with art attacking me from every angle. The instant you step in to the Vatican Musuem, pieces critical to the history of art start popping up everywhere. Laocoön and His Sons was smaller than I expected, while Raphael’s The School of Athens was a massive painting frescoed in a tiny room. In the gallery above, I have included some of my favorite pieces. I stayed for hours, but it feels like I only saw a fraction of the work to be seen. St. Peter’s Basilica is overwhelmingly massive ‐ photos could never do the place justice. Rome is so much more than I could ever imagined. Soon, I will start making larger works on paper responding to my surroundings. In the meantime, I plan on continuing to sketch and observe as much as possible.
I spent a large part of my day today in the main branch of the National Museum of Rome. The museum houses many preserved frescoes from the Villa of Livia, the wife of Augustus, found in Prima Porta. We focused on the influence of Roman art on the Renaissance, particularly looking at the relationship between pictorial space and naturalism. I found the mosaics to be particularly beautiful. Time and time again, I am drawn to the Roman representations of women. The draping of their clothes fascinate me, as well as their dramatic poses.