Why Florence? Monday, Jan 7 2013 

Florence (Firenze):

  • is a compact, metropolitan city of 500,000 people
  • is the birthplace of the Renaissance
  • is one of the most walkable cities in Italy (most important sites are within 1/2-hour walking distance of the Duomo)
  • draws visitors from all over the world
  • has a history rich with intrigue, adventure, and centuries of incredible patronage of the arts (can we say “Medici”?)
  • has an equally rich “present,” — with cafes, clubs, shops and cinemas
  • is centrally located for day trips to other Tuscan hill towns and city centers
  • is home to Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi as well as works by Caravaggio, Giotto, Rembrandt and Raphael
  • has a cuisine characterized by simple preparations of abundant produce, mellow cheeses, grilled meats and a fascination for beans

What types of assignments will we be doing? Monday, Jan 7 2013 

A variety of media and techniques will be demonstrated and discussed and can include drawing, photography, watercolor, collage and bookarts.  Assignments will be designed and coordinated with site locations and the works of selected artists who lived in or traveled to Italy and whose own practice was influenced by their experiences.  In many instances, you will be asked to use demonstrated techniques on location to record your impressions and express your ideas.  For example, an assignment might ask you to work in watercolor in the Boboli Gardens (in the method of John Singer Sargent as seen in the image below) or to sketch architectural monuments in the style of Piranesi. You will develop a working knowledge of these processes through hands on experience, small group discussion and large format critiques.

No previous art experience needed? Really? Monday, Jan 7 2013 

Many of the participants may be like you, very excited about spending a month in Italy, looking forward to seeing some amazing art and learning more about the history of the works and the region. They are also excited about the opportunity to spend some time making their own art in response to their experiences, learning a few new processes, and having fun with their peers. Many of the group members may not be art students. Some have past experience but most are just eager to learn and looking forward to trying new things. The demonstrations will be designed for folks with little to no experience so please do not feel intimidated about your technical skill level. Everyone will quickly develop a working method that suits their individual needs and abilities and will hopefully make a few things that they will look back on some day as a document of the beautiful summer they spent in Italy.

This is a 5 credit class. Of course, like any class there will be assignments you’ll need to complete, no different than here at the UW. And your participation with the group is also a factor in the evaluation process. We believe everyone going with us will be there because they want to, will work hard, learn a few new things and do extremely well. Everyone’s work will be unique to them, quite exciting to see develop.

Remember you can only learn what you already don’t know.

Who are the Directors? Monday, Jan 7 2013 

Directors of Tuscany: A Creative Journey.

Curt Labitzke, Associate Professor in the Studio Art Division of the School of Art, is a seasoned traveler in Italy.  He has directed five quarter-long School of Art programs in Rome and has traveled extensively through Italy with these groups.  Recently, he took a group of students to study in Leon, Spain for a quarter. As an artist and as an instructor, he has worked with a wide variety of media as well as a diverse student population, from those just beginning to develop their skills as artists to advanced graduate students.  Curt’s work is highly influenced by his travels throughout Italy and is characterized by large scale figures whose relationships evoke both the magnitude of the mythological as well as the  nuances of personal intimacy.

Cynthia Caci, who has co-directed seminars in Sicily, Tunisia and Tuscany, has a graduate degree in Art History with a focus in the art of the early Italian Renaissance.  She brings not only language proficiency in conversational Italian but also teaching experience that will provide an historical context to the seminar in Tuscany. Her entire career at the Univeristy of Washington has been involved in undergraduate education and in helping students align their personal, educational and professional goals with opportunities at the UW and beyond. Cynthia is the Assistant Director of C21 (Center for 21st Century Liberal Learning) in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Where will we be staying? Monday, Jan 7 2013 

In Florence, we will be staying in a travelers hostel. Students will be housed in quads with bathrooms ensuite. The location is perfect — we will be living in the Oltrarno, the neighborhood south of the Arno river. As opposed to the centro istorico (Historic Center) where most tourists stay, we will become residents of a true working neighborhood.

Oltrarno retains an authentic Florentine atmosphere made up of art and artisans and lively piazzi where people meet and live together. This neighborhood contains shops and unique workshops, cafes and restaurants, world-famous and lesser-known museums and monuments and is just a short 10-minute walk to the city’s center.