Studio Art (Venice, Italy)
Photos and Captions by Donna Clovis
For my graduate studio critique class led by Professor Maurizio Pelligrin, I was able to work on the Lido beaches of Venice in the early morning. As a performance artist and photographer, I created artistic pieces using the waters of Venice since it is a place of shifting light, mists, and hazes that change as the sun rises.
The seminar, The Artist in Venice, led by Professor William Barcham, gave me the opportunity to view Renaissance paintings throughout Venice. Three mornings a week, we met our professor at different locations, churches, and monuments. It was an adventure finding your way on the water buses through the canals and lagoons of the city. On other mornings, we would work on our personal projects in the Graduate Studio Critique classes. Some would paint, others would practice photography. I would spend my mornings photographing the fishing villages or creating performance pieces on the beaches of the Lido when the light was absolutely beautiful! During the afternoons and early evenings, we participated in artist talks. We would listen to various artists from Italy and view their work. As an artist, this dialogue with other artists and my experiences pursuing my own artwork in another country opened my life to another perspective. So often in America, we think everything is about us and the way we live. I learned that the world is far more complex, that there are other ways of seeing art and indeed the rest of the world. All of this has contributed to my larger world view. I hope I can continue to add to that new global perspective.
Looking for a more personal experience of Venice, I took a boat out to one of the islands of Venice called Burano. I had never seen so much color on an island before. It was a small fisherman's village filled with amazing doorways, alleys, and windows. I had the luxury of my own time that allowed me to view a more personal relationship with the people and islands of Venice where civilizations have lived for centuries. As a student of art, I was most affected by the vivid colors of the places and the strong sense of art history around me. The cobblestone alleys I walked upon reminded me of the centuries of lives I must be passing. A new window had opened to me and as a photographer, I sought to capture time. I enrolled in the Venice Program because I wanted an international experience around art. I also wanted to participate in a global art cooperative. I felt I needed to learn more by living in Europe. And indeed, I learned a lot more than I expected. As a performance artist and photographer, art history and foreign travel are not required in my degree program, but I felt I was missing something. Art history is the foundation of all art. If I learned something about it, then maybe it would improve the way I practice and see art in the world.
Looking for a gondola ride? I had always wanted to take one. It was the first thing that I did when I visited Venice. The accordian music that accompanied the ride added to the journey through small canal streets between buildings. It was the first time I realized that I could really do without my car!
Strolling through the streets and labyrinths of Venice on the way to classes gave us the opportunity to meet local people and observe their way of life. Speaking to them, I learned to improve my Italian. Their friendly faces welcomed me in their country. I soon felt at home. In undergraduate school, I had a chance to live in Spain. I have never forgotten the experience or the people. To this day, I still write to the many friends I had met. Now, visiting Italy as a graduate student, I appreciate things much more. I have met such wonderful people and had a wonderful experience. It is my hope that as an artist I will be able to partner better with people around the world and participate in international exhibitions. My career goal is to become an international artist. I think that is the way life is going now. It is more than America. It is about the world and how we fit into it to make it a better place. And hopefully, a place where I can exhibit and share my art with others!