Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thanksgiving in Italy

Throughout the trip, I was only homesick a few times. Thanksgiving day was probably the worst, because it is such an American Holiday that nothing else can compare, or so I thought. As I've said before, the villa staff was absolutely amazing. Somehow they got wind of our holiday and that we all might be a little homesick, and the next thing we know, the biggest thanksgiving feast I have ever seen is being laid out at the gala: a 33lb. turkey, heaping bowls of potatoes, artichokes, chestnut stuffing, rolls, beans, etc. Rosella even searched and searched to find us cranberry sauce, in the end having to settle for fruit jams. This was such an amazing display of hospitality and friendship. I think we were all a little overcome with how wonderful the villa staff were. Later in the night, we were treated to Bibi reading from her book of poetry, which was absolutely beautiful. None of us had known that she was a poet, so it was a big surprise. Her poetry was just like her personality: loving and sweet. The gala overall was a huge success. Michaele had also made us some of his sangria with fresh fruit, which was delicious, as you can imagine. I will never forget the people at the villa, or the experiences that we shared.

Artist Statement

  •      Before coming to Italy, I never thought of myself as an artist, or thought that anything I created qualified as art. This trip has opened my eyes to many different aspects of art, from its history, to its influence on politics and religion, as well as its universal accessibility and power to move people. Being privileged to be a first hand viewer of these things has also made me feel as though I am more of an artist, as I feel that I understand a great deal more about art, and consequently understand more about how to create my own art.
         Art is impossible for me to concretely define. There are many different forms of art and many different opinions about what exactly must go into a piece in order for it to be deemed "art." Nature is often viewed as art, but some argue that because nature is not purposefully created by human hands, it is not art. Many images are created solely for commercial purposes, lacking an artist's feelings and design. Are these pieces, created solely for monetary gain, to be considered art? To me, the purpose and motivations behind any creation determine whether or not it should be considered an artistic piece.  Coming into this experience, I lacked any sort of information regarding the technical and historical aspects of art. Gaining this knowledge has helped me realize what I consider to be art, as well as how I construct my works, and what goes into them. As stated before, I believe that anything created with emotion and purpose is art. I have begun to understand what type of art I am good at, the things that I like to portray, and why those particular things are so important to me.
         While at the villa, we had the pleasure of hearing Don Kimes, an accomplished contemporary artist, discuss how art has affected his life, and how his works have changed throughout the years. During his presentation, he said something that rang true with me. Don has discovered through his years of artwork that, for him, a piece only reveals its meaning after it has been completed. Whenever I begin a piece, an idea or concept usually pops into my head, and the meanings behind it become clearer to me the longer I work on it, and continues to blossom after the piece is completed. Hearing Don Kimes discuss his creative process gave me more confidence in my own works, since I had previously believed the slow development of my creative process was due to inexperience or lack of training.

  •       Printmaking is something that I am completely new to, and something that has challenged me mentally and physically. The ideas that my piece focuses on, like so much of my art, are acceptance, happiness, and determining one's identity. I feel that I am not rooted in one place. I have two families in two different places, and a few close friends that I consider to be family. I feel that my identity has been determined by many places, people, and experiences. The Russian nesting dolls in the linoleum represent how I am comprised of many aspects; each one fitting together to create who I am. There are details in each "third" of the print (California, Montana, Italy) that symbolize people and things that I hold very dear, and that have influenced me in some way. Overall, I feel that this print shows a great deal of who I am. The content is intimate and sincere. The finished product is not at the level I would like it to be, and I plan on creating more prints and furthering my skills in this medium.

  •           I have found that, as with my print, most of my art has focused on the female figure and ideas of beauty, freedom, and acceptance. These are things that I have struggled with in the past, and continue to struggle with today. Creating tangible evidence of these conflicts and concepts provides a constructive and creative way to further explore and settle what is going on inside my head. As far as materials and mediums are concerned, I don't like to stick to one particular medium; I feel that is very limiting. I love vibrant colors and free moving shapes; I like to be messy and spontaneous when I create. I've always been told I am a free spirit, and I think that is very evident in the way that I work. I struggle with "drawing in the lines," as I like to call it, or being precise and drawing/painting neatly. Part of this is due to a medical condition that causes my hands to shake, and part of it is a lack of self control on my part, something that I will continue to develop as I progress with my art.
         Currently, I am interested in further working with charcoal, specifically developing better techniques of shading. I have become fascinated with the female form, after seeing the numerous ways it has been portrayed throughout the centuries, each being beautiful in its own way. Current definitions of beauty label women in extremely cruel and unrealistic ways, and put highly irrational limits and restrictions on what is considered beautiful. Throughout Italian history, women have been portrayed as large, small, heavy, thin, feminine, muscular, clothed, b=nude, etc., but each portrayal still manages to capture a pure form and expression of beauty, something that is missing in our society today, and something that affects many young women very negatively. 

  • Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    A Taste of Honey

    So following the giant chocolate festival in Perugia, Corciano had a small chocolate festival of their own. We decided that we needed a break from working on our art projects, so we headed up the hill to see Corciano and the festival. This turned out to be one of my absolute favorite experiences. There were nine small booths with different chocolate food items, and we split tickets for each booth. There were also booths with bread, beer, wine, and cured meats. Some people randomly gave us their tickets so we got to go on a second tour for free, which was so awesome! The wine and beer booth people were from France and Germany, so we got a chance to practice some different languages...and speak English! very refreshing. I was walking along one of the streets when I saw a little store carved into the side of a building. It was literally a little cavernous like cave with vaulted ceilings. Inside was a really awesome and nice guy who made his own olive oil. He offered me samples and kept....offering me some more samples! I got a small bottle of it for a present for someone very lucky back at home. I'm not a huge fan of olives, but this was the best olive oil I have ever tasted in my life! After having our fill of all the delicious food, we were sitting in the main piazza having a beer and some gelato when a band of thirty or so men came into the square and started playing. They are called the Perugia Funking Band, and I would highly recommend checking them out! They are amazing. They played for about two hours, walking through the town and dancing the whole time. Here is a link to their Facebook fan page:
    We finally left, because we were freezing! Also, we had to get back for dinner! In short, this day was so wonderful because of the people we met :) And because no one pushed us! haha :)

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    So the Euro Chocolate Festival takes place in Perugia, about 20 minutes away from our villa, so we all took the train to go stuff our faces with delicious European chocolate. What we were not prepared for was the icy wind and freezing temperatures! I might be exaggerating a little bit, but it was pretty darn cold. Even the experience of eating a nutella filled panini couldn't warm me up. We had to go find a cheap hoodie, and after that were able to enjoy things much much more! It was the first day of the festival, so it was extremely crowded. People get a little pushy and cranky when it comes to getting their chocolate! I bought my Mom some milk chocolate from a Perugian company's booth, and my roommates and I may had ended up eating it...sorry Mom! All in all, I'd say the festival was exhausting, but a success. It was also Mark and Rhett's last day with us, so Ellen, Ben, and Jase put on a recital, and we all spent time together, playing "the Vegetable Game" and having a few Swedish beers, courtesy of Johan's awesome parents! If you have ever wanted to make your teachers laugh, I would highly recommend teaching them "the Vegetable Game." It was a very fun night, and the perfect way to send our teachers off. :)

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    A Hard Day's Night

    Okay so i am very very behind with my blogging, which is no one's fault but my own. I'd like to partially blame it on how much fun I have been having and the fact that i am constantly seeing new art and wonderful things like that, but the truth is that I have just gotten behind. Rome was exhausting but wonderful. The city was very dirty and filled with cigarette smoke, but also filled with art around every corner and Iìm with wonderful people. The Bernini sculptures just blew my mind, and i'm pretty sure that all other art is ruined for me, except maybe Botticelli, who painted "The Birth of Venus" and "Primavera." Coincidentally, I got to see those paintings today. One thing that especially amazed me about seeing Bernini's works is that he intended for them to only be seen from the front, but the entire sculpture is shown the same level of intricate, perfectionist style of detail and care. These works make me ashamed of things that people create today. Definitely got lost on my way back to the hotel, nearly had a panic attack because there were literally hundreds and hundreds of tourists packing the streets and I was lost! Seeing different styles of churches nas been really neat, and seeing ancient tombs inside of the churches is even more interesting. Florence has been much more exhausting than Rome, but not because we have been busier. In fact, we have been able to rest much more, and there is not nearly the amount of walking that was required in Rome. Florence seems to be much more centralized. I think we are all realizing how tired we are simply because we finally got a chance to stop, so our bodies and minds were able to process and somewhat decompress.

    "My candle burns at both ends [...]" -Henry David Thoreau

    All You Need is Love

    Something I have realized while in Italy is how much of a difference it makes and how much one's outlook is affected by the people he or she is surrounded by. Looking at photos, or remembering events that have happened, places we have been to, and new things we have tried, I realize that I would not have enjoyed everything and have been having such a wonderful time as I have been. The art, architecture, scenery, culture and food has been incredible, but experiencing it with different people or alone wouldn't have been nearly as wonderful. While this trip is worth all of the hard work and effort it has taken, there are certainly times when we all get frustrated, or tired, it's really the people that help me (or whoever it is) to get through it.  Visiting the Vatican would not have been nearly the same had I not been with three other people who were all as excited to spell out "POPE" with our bodies as I was. Seeing the statues at the Capitoli Mueso would not have been quite the same without people who put up with me yelling "Narrrrnia!" when I saw the sculptures of fauns and centaurs. Not that all I have been doing is acting like a thirteen year old while I have been here, but the people who are here are just flat out wonderful, and have inspired me to grow and helped me to overcome many of the difficulties on this trip. I hope I have been able to do the same for them, and I am very much looking forward to the remainder of our time in Italy together. 

    "It is not what you do, it is who you do it with."

    That Means A Lot

    So the first night we spend at the villa, we all fall asleep watching "Momma Mia." Everything is pretty normal. Then I wake up in the early early morning, unable to move my head due to a searing pain in the left side of my neck, shooting up into my skull. I've never experienced this before, so I tried to fall back asleep, hoping it would go away. A few hours later, when it had only gotten worse, I was starting to get really scared. I whispered, "Melissa! Wake up I can't move my head!" Melissa, being a true best friend, whisper/yells across the room to Maggie, "Wake up, Marianne can't move her neck!" then proceeded to go back to sleep. Well, my neck only got worse as the day wore on, and I spent the majority of the day in bed, trying not to move. The next day, Rosella Vasta, one of the children of the owners of the Villa, Rhett, Melissa and I went to a physical therapist that Rosella had found through her friend. The lady was very young and spoke little English, so communicating with her was done mainly through Rosella, and using charades! She gave me about a 45 minute massage with lemon scented oil, which was just absolutely wonderful. Rosella made me wear her own scarf, and I found out how sweet and wonderful she is. She also happens to be a very recognized artist, and told us about some of her recent projects. This experience meant a lot to me. It showed me how people that you don't even know can be extremely caring, and make all the difference in the world. Rosella still asks about my neck whenever I see her, and everyone on the trip was very  helpful and caring, especially Megs, Melissa, Maggie and the teachers. Melissa and Maggie even helped me get dressed at one point. That's true bonding!

    "If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair." -Samuel Johnson