If I could bottle an experience to relive it anew, no doubt the Summer of 2017 I spent in Italy would be in my arsenal. I was afforded the opportunity to study the works of a Venetian architect, Carlo Scarpa and the architecture abound in the Veneto region. The trip was funded out of pocket, supplemented by funds from my school and from the Gilman Scholarship Program, an honor it was for me to have received it. The program encourages American students to study abroad and gain proficiency in diverse languages and cultures, thus enriching their own academic and professional development.
Being in Italy was something I needed to do as a design student, for there was no substitute for the presence of the very thing you are studying - at least not when it comes to architecture and design. It's like trying to see whether you'll like a piece of furniture when you only have a picture and description of it from a catalogue. How can you possibly tell?
For a month, I was surrounded by beautiful buildings, beautiful sculptures and beautiful details. It seemed strange to me that all this beauty was out in the open when most beautiful things like that are locked behind gates or private doors back in the States.
ARCHITECTURE + CARLO SCARPA
Scarpa was extraordinary in the attention he paid to the materials used in his works, the space it inhabited. He took advantage of all these circumstances to bring out a sensual imagining to those who saw it. We visited his Brion Cemetery, for example, in San Vito d'Altivole near Treviso. It's so goddamn gorgeous. Out of this world.
Notice the interesting way he lets light in through profiled openings or how light appears at the end of constructed passageways. It is this contrast of lightness and darkness that makes walking through this monument feel like a journey in itself, a discovery of details. Scarpa was influenced by the Japanese and you can see it in the balance and harmony that the Brion Cemetery embodies - there is almost a weightlessness about it all.
SKETCHES + DRAWINGS
We kept a visual journal for this course and filled it with ink sketches of buildings and architecture. No pencil! These drawings were a means for us to understand and critically analyze Italian public spaces - particularly the piazzas. You don't really think about something until you've sat for 7 hours drawing it, immersed in the presence of it. It sounds boring, but there I was, sitting in the scorching sun drawing this one building downtown from our hotel. I was focused on doing this one thing only and this focus brought me to the present. I still remember the fluctuating waves of people as they went their way for lunch, for breakfast, for a coffee...the annoying flute player who tried to sell his CDs to the tourists...or those kids that I thought were going to rob me because 4 of them surrounded me without saying anything to me or each other and just stared at me while more of them stood far away with a camera pointed my direction.
But for those moments that I was measuring and dissecting the building to capture onto my sketchbook, my usual frenzied thoughts abated into a precise focus.
ART + CON ARTIST COLLECTIVE RESIDENCY
From my sketches, I began to develop illustrations influenced by architectural details - windows, bridges, people. A frenzy of details. It then flowed into my art when I came back to the States. I did two paintings for an art residency show at the Con Artist Collective on April 2-8, 2018. The details for the background of my paintings were derivative of the illustrations I had done in Italy.
ON TRAVEL FOR STUDENTS
Don't go to a country just to say you've been there. Be there in heart and mind. Take the time to be uncomfortable. If you get chance to, check out the Gilman Scholarship @ www.gilmanscholarship.org/. Studying in Italy was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I've had and I was fortunate to get the funding I did. The experience influenced the way I thought about Italian culture, appreciation for details, language, art, design and more. I still look through my sketchbook and pictures every now and then to remember the inspiration I found and lessons learned. It'd be much easier if I could just bottle the experience and relive it every now and then, haha, that'd be great.