Friday, September 30, 2005

Italy update.

Conditions here in Italy are such that this is the best way that I can communicate at the moment. We have one very old computer that is intermittent in its access to the net and a donated laptop that is only slightly more reliable. So needless to say, unless I go to Perugia or Ellera (the next town over) and pay for internet, this is the best that I can do. But that does not excuse any of you from writing me. My inbox has been very empty lately….hint hint.

Its three weeks since I've been here and so far so good. I'm starting to get into the program and am falling for printmaking even more. I haven't stretched a single canvas yet. Partly due to the lack of decent tools that we have here. Most of you that know me with power tools, you will be proud to know that I made a perfectly squared canvas stretcher. The only problem is that I now need wood putty to fill in the corners because the saw cuts at a diagonal down……I have ¼ inch gaps on the outside of the stretcher. The good news is they do sell metal corner braces here, because there is no way that glue would stay in the gaps. I'll be stretching this weekend though; never fear there will be paint flying soon.

My work has already changed dramatically, partly due to the trip to Florence that we took last weekend. The program went to the Gori Collection (a sculpture park) outside of Florence. It is an 19 th century romantic garden (55 acres or so….) behind a country palazzo now owned by Mr. Gori, a textiles magnate. He has commissioned big name sculptors to come in and do site specific sculpture to be incorporated into the property. It was beautiful. The hike was challenging though. I feel proud that I completed it. Though I did splurge and go buy a little camp stool for the hike during stops to study each sculpture. Its one of my best purchases here so far. I love using it in the studio.

I convinced the program director to drop me and those who wanted to go at the nearest train station and we headed into Florence for the night. It was great to be back, though I still think its way too full of tourists. But I did get some decent art supply shopping in with the purchase of some beautiful papers. I also got a great wool scarf in the San Lorenzo market for dirt cheap. I spent a good 5 hours sketching anatomically correct wax models of knees (go figure) in La Specola museum on Saturday. I'm hoping that it will inform my work greatly. I am planning another trip back soon to study the muscles of the leg. The staff there was also very supportive in finding artists studying from their models. They provided us with chairs to sit and study further in. There are all kinds of animals there. I think there are 4 rooms of birds alone. In some ways seeing all the animals that have been stuffed and put on display is odd and creepy. (I couldn't look at the owls, it reminded me too much of the one in my grandparents house)

The program itself is a mixed bag. There are many things that I think could be improved quite easily, but I had indications of it when I came. Communication does not seem to be a priority with some. The levels of graduate work are also very mixed and I feel confident in my skills. We had an excellent visiting artist last week the really helped with a lot of insight for me at least. I think the program will be made in the most part by visiting artists and my thesis professor for this semester. I honestly hope that he gets to return. Up until this year, the program has been taught by recent graduates and an intermittent program director. But this year, at least for the grad students, we actually have some professional level professors. The studios are a mixed bag. They are large, though there is next to no natural light and fluorescent lighting. The printmaking studio gets its power by an extension cord strung through the window from the main studios. The lighting consists of parking lot lights that are hooked to that extension cord. Despite all of these quirks, I do believe that I made the right choice. I think that this will be a tremendous growth opportunity for me.

The weather is starting to turn chilly here. There is talk of an early winter. But for now we are all enjoying the sunshine as it comes and speaking of sunshine….I'm gonna go find some. Ciao! Hope to hear from y'all soon!

i'm including a few photos of the house. the one looking down the hill the row of three houses, mine is the middle. The rest are my room and the view from my room.