Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Don't Make me go home!

It is the last week of our study abroad program. The time flew by so fast.  I remember freshman year, sitting in drawing 1, talking to a bunch of girls in my class. We all talked about the excitement of going abroad. Now I can say those girls are some of my best friends and roommates, here in florence. It is crazy to think how fast my college experience is going.

I Loved traveling to different countries! My favorite country was Switzerland. The Views looked like a screen savor. I went paragliding and had the best hot coco. The weekend traveling enhanced my love of Europe. I saw so many great sights and museums. The food In Europe is amazing.

Overall, This trip was the experience of a lifetime. I have an appreciation for a European city. Florence is now a second home to me. I hope to return as soon as I can. Abroad has made me a stronger and more independent person. I love Florence and would recommend studying here!

About To Say Goodbye


I can't believe we have been here for four months.  Just a few days left, and I'm getting super sentimental.  My time here flew right by and I'm definitely finding a new found appreciation for this city.  It's easy to take things for granted when something is a part of your every day life, but nearing the end of my stay I realize precious every minute is here.

I think I have grown a lot this semester artistically in the sense I have started a new habit of keeping a sketchbook.  I'm still working on the consistency of this habit, however I'm slowly but surely getting there.

I can't believe I have to say goodbye in just a couple of days.  I'm sad to have to leave my home.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Breaking Walls, Building Bridges

Arriving in France to the sound of svelte vowels greeted warmly greeted me. I had returned. There is such adventure in language. Although I didn’t know two words of Italian before, I took comfort in the French while I could. Navigating the airport sure became easier.

From Paris to Florence. The plane was small, so we were able to exit onto the runway. My first breath of pure Tuscan air rushed into my lungs. I wished to breathe in the sun’s color. My heart was light, though my eyes were like lead. We took a tram for our luggage. Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculptures of the Hellenistic World. This was the first ad I saw in Italy. I took it as a sign. Sculpture and history was on the bus! Imagine: What would be beyond the small airport?

Jacapo Ligozzi, Fortuna, Uffizzi (I think this is a really funny & accurate representation of Fortune) 

I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I had prepared. To be engrossed with history and art. (This is a shout-out to my brother, TJ.) To be living where Ezio saved the Lorenzo Medici in Palazzo Vecchio during the Pazzi Conspiracy. Maybe even catch da Vinci in his workshop where he would give me some drawings to aid me in my quest. In fact, two days before we left, I watched him as he went through his index of geographical places, hoping the history would stick in my excited mind. A common joke between us is how I would stand where the haystack beside Palazzo Vecchio is in the game and send a picture to him. “I wouldn’t jump that, if I were you,” he would say. This disparity between how the city is used today versus in historical days is one that hung in my head every day. I preferred to think of the cotton shoes with soft soles that graced the people of the 1400’s rather than those that clamber on the worn stone today.

The wealth in the Palazzo Pitti was nauseating. Incredible.

Sketchbook work: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Picasso, in Ferrero Rocher wrappings

This trip solidified my hunch. I find it rather difficult to connect with people who are living. Memories of people and their work are much more disposable to my understanding. In Storrs, there is not much of that; so in Florence, my mind went adrift into hundreds of past years whenever I walked out of our Gino Capponi door that closed with a resounding thud. Between staring at the intricate stone of pavement and the hidden gem family crests that adorned many more house than one would think(!), history was alive before my eyes. Even today, I cannot believe my visions. As in, my eyes take in this beauty, but I don’t believe the optical messages that my optical nerve is receiving!

Walkabout Tours 7 hour Cooking Class; highly recommend!

Best Pizza in my life; Lucca


Gelato cheers, Certo!

The veil of reverence and intense humility still shrouds my vision. However, when I recall, a slight smile returns to my visage from those places. I'll miss the places the most. Especially Piazza della Signornia and her statues. Resting on her high benches with expertly found companions in stone, listening to the echoes of voices and sounds of the city that resound against the high ceiling, I was always complete under the shadow of those friends. Often, I would attempt to imprint as much as a could of those scenes onto my fibers because those times meant so very much to me. Victor Hugo spoke of Paris awakening with bells; in Florence in the Loggia dei Lanzi, one can witness the same miracle: “Behold! Rising from each bell tower, something like a column of sound, a cloud of harmony. First, the vibration of each bell mounts straight upwards, pure and, so to speak, isolated from the others, into the splendid morning sky; then, little by little, as they swell they melt together, mingle, are lost in each other, and amalgamate in a magnificent concert.”

Il Rato delle Sabine, Giambologna; My favorite sculpture there

A few pictures I sniped at the Alberto Burri museum before they tapped me and said photos were forbidden (yea, it was very embarrassing.. they also made an announcement throughout the whole museum..)

But it was worth it!!! (I swear I didn't know!)

I understand I have taken a highly romanticized view of Florence to my memory. I consciously decided this. As I have said earlier, people are tough for me; why not, then, become ingrained in what humans have left, what time has built for herself? Layer upon layer of man. Each one thinking he is as just as permanent and important as the previous. This process has intoxicated me and my artwork. To capture elusive Time and mirror her whimsical, detrimental, constructive, omnipotent ways. Of course, I am only at the genesis, but Florence has enlightened me.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale, this was on the end of our street!!!

Adventures with Mother! (She almost had it)

Time here has provided a setting for intense growth. I have read so many books, and have become knowledge’s faithful friend. Giving tours at the Basilica of the Santa Croce enflamed my heart every time under that wooden Tau-shaped cross roof. Weekly, I would be in the presence of Giotto, Arnolfo di Cambio, Vasari, and Cimabue just to name a few. Physically seeing the hand that outlined frescoed bodies that were painted in the 1330’s overwhelmed me. So humbling.

We made it to Finals! (that meant beating actual Italian teams! ... no, I did not play in those games)

Four more days, that is all that separates us from our true home. Flashing back to that original taxi drive to our apartment that hot August 25th is odd. I am heartbroken to leave, but I am so giddy to apply what I've learned here to creating in Storrs, and we’ll have an art building so we can go even bigger with pieces! Wohoo!! (My roommates know this struggle. J)

For Art Clash, I made my own oil paint sticks, thanks to Tiziano Lucchesi.

Then I took the texture of the Duomo pavement (a crowd gathered!). Then I took an imprint of the bottom layer with the white paper (on the right).

Then I cut into thin strips the 2.20 x 1m paper and glued it onto painted black paper. The first layer was the darker, the second builds on it, while revealing the underlayer.

The prompt was: Breaking Walls, Building Bridges This will be shown in a student show in Palazzo Vecchio in Spring 2016.

My artist statement: Layer upon layer of man. Each one thinking he is as just as permanent and prominent as the previous. Living in Florence, which is built by this creed, I have become intoxicated by this layering of work. As this town was made by man’s hand, my perspective is through the innate sense of touch. Here, Florence is shown through textural rubbings of her Piazza del Duomo pavement; the element, the pietra bigia, which physically built the city. By its nature of process, the rubbings become an abstraction. This abstraction is crucial because concrete operational thinking does not allow to see the new. Extracted-original views are manifestations of my curiosity of constructing layers to be covered, similar to time passing over layers of earth. Hence, breaking walls of concrete viewing and building bridges of new, purer vision.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

And now, the end is near...

DIANA ABOUCHACRA writing from Madeline Nicholson's account

I have to say my experience in Florence has been incredibly beautiful and memorable, and the experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was one of those times in life where I found out so much about myself, about life, and about people. From the food to the culture to the art and architecture, I have never experienced so much before. I've got to meet and know so many beautiful and interesting people; people that I would have never approached back home, and would have missed out on some great friendships.

I cannot pinpoint my most memorable experience here in Florence, but I will try to narrow it down to the types of nights that were most memorable for me, where words cannot describe how it feels, but I will try to do my best. Some nights, a few friends from the program and I would get gelato (ice cream) and go sit at the Piazza della Signoria. Being able to sit next to the breathtaking art and not pass by it hurriedly as if we were a tourists, was just incredible in itself;  not being rushed in order to truly experience the place in which you are in. There were always street musicians playing their melodies at night, and that combination with the art, I feel as if those nights are engraved in my mind forever. Sitting in a spectacular piazza with so much art, eating the incredibly tasty gelato, hearing the beautiful music, and being with friends - those nights were the most memorable for me.
For future Florentine people:

Don't take advantage of where you are if you choose to study here in Florence. It is truly an experience in which you should enjoy to the full extent. I see so many people, after classes are over, who just go straight to their rooms and watch shows or just lay in bed so many days. What I say to myself, is that I have so many days to be lazy at home, I should just go and walk around and sit and sketch somewhere instead of staying inside and wasting the time I would have had in experiencing the different piazzas, artwork, food, and people. And even if you cannot travel outside of Florence, or even Italy, you're still in Florence!! You have already traveled to this amazing, breathtaking city; don't feel ashamed if the rest of your friends are going and you are not, because Florence is well worth a city to be explored inside and out.

somewhere lost in Venice...

making cupcakes - Soyoung

reflections in Venice

boat tour in Venice

the quatro in Sienna
(couldn't rotate the image)


Jasmine Jones

 a selection from "Something New":


rented bikes in Lucca

painting of Santa Croce

sketch of the graveyard of the San Miniato Church, Florence

Thank you Florence, and those who made it possible.
It was truly a journey that sent me deeper on the pathway to finding myself.

Monday, November 30, 2015

It's almost finals time..

After living in Florence for about three months, it's strange to think that we'll soon be leaving this place. I am now very well adjusted to the lifestyle and can call my apartment here my home. Not only have I been experiencing some amazing places, but I have also been able to make some lifelong friends. Being thrown into an apartment with five other people whom I had never met before can seem like a challenge at first, but after traveling throughout Europe with them it becomes very easy to bond. These are people that I have traveled through not only Italy with but all the way out to Germany, Barcelona, Spain, Switzerland and even more.
This photo is from the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, which I can easily say was the most beautiful place for me. And also being able to stand only a few feet away from death was pretty exhilarating too. These cliffs really gave me a sense of what beauty the world has to offer and makes me want to continue to travel more throughout my lifetime.

Being in Florence has also given me many artistic opportunities that I may have not been able to accomplish or maybe even just realize back home. One project that I have been working on here has to do with bicycles, and their importance here in Florence. When half of the people around you, or maybe even more, are using some type of transportation other than a car it makes you quickly distinguish yourself from the people who live here, myself in particular as I need to take my car any where I want to go. But being a photo major, I saw this as a great place to start an ongoing project. I have begun to photograph not only bikes that are left alone on the street waiting to be ridden again but also owners riding their bikes throughout the city. Everybody has a place to go and a different expression so photographing these people is really interesting to me.
When I get back to Uconn, I want to photograph students and others biking around and see what the similarities and differences are if any. While I'm not fully ready to go home yet, it will be nice to get thrown back into the real world. I have been enjoying every moment here and am not ready to let that go. Florence has become my home and I hope that the next group to come here will enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


It’s hard to believe that we are already over halfway finished with our semester in Florence, yet looking back on the day we first arrived feels distant. Now, I go about my everyday life here with much more ease, falling into the routine of navigating without a map and predominately hearing a language that isn’t English.

The highlight of this semester so far has been fall break. A combination of the most rewarding experiences I will always look back at fondly, beginning my trip with flying out to London and meeting up with my dad for a few days. Not only did I finally get to see family, but I was also able to experience an incredible city with him. Not to mention, it was refreshing to visit a city that spoke English. I felt extremely fortunate to have been able to see my dad during my time away, so naturally the hardest part of my time abroad was saying goodbye to him again. London itself was extraordinary. It was large, lively, and full of history. It was hard to visit everything in just a few days time, but we managed to see a lot and of course made time to visit Platform 9 3/4.

After admiring London for a few days, I took a high speed train out to Paris to meet up with friends for the rest of our time off. I chose to go to Paris because it had been a city I’d pictured myself visiting since I was very young. It was crazy to be traveling to Versailles one day and then the Eiffel Tower the next. So many historical locations and monuments, its still crazy to think that I was there experiencing such a widely recognized and appreciated culture.
This trip was not only significant because of all I was able to see in a week, but I learned a lot from traveling and how to get around. When I returned I chose to make my “Something New” project on different modes of public transportation that I learned a lot more about during my time away.

-Paige Kibby

Monday, November 23, 2015

Less Than 3 Weeks Away Ragazzi!

My last post I had shared was about my experience 3 weeks into the program. Now there's less than 3  weeks left! Everyone had told me that studying abroad will go by so fast and I can’t emphasize how fast it really does. 

Being busy with classes makes time fly really fast. The drawing/painting class has been interesting, as it allows us to explore new places in Florence, even two months in. We have had some weekly assignments that I have enjoyed very much. We are given an assignment with very little direction but it forces us to explore and create in a very unique way. We had our first critique in the class which was super helpful as it helped us all. It was also a great opportunity to see work done by our classmates. 

We are done with our cultural literacy workshop class. Last week we had to make a group video project about our experiences in Italy so far. This was so much fun, as our video highlighted the amazing food culture here. I enjoyed this because a few of us from the studio arts program have been having family dinners every other week with students from the other programs and so for our video, we made pasta! We all met up and made fresh pasta! Fresh pasta meaning a pasta maker, eggs, flour and a lot of teamwork. This was one of the many experiences that I will miss back home. It  allows us to meet new people and every week we do something new. 

 I finally got the hang of the pace here in Italy and know it will be hard re-adjusting in America. I love how relaxed everyone is here. My friends and I have definitely enjoyed this, as we spend a lot of time together especially during dinner and when we go out to bars. Traveling is also an example of changing the pace because although we only have weekends to travel, I don’t feel stressed traveling for such a short amount of time. You learn to enjoy the little things during the moment instead of planning too far in the future.

I know these next few weeks are going to be bittersweet. Though the holiday time is making me miss my family and home, I know that when I get home I will be missing my routine in Florence.