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.