Art, Space, and the City: A New Course on How to Experience Florence through Contemporary Art and City Structure

Written by Sofia Koch, Special Project Experiential Learing in Journalism - Spring 2024

Art, psychology, and philosophy have been rounded up in one new course through Florence  University of the Arts - The American University of Florence: Art, Space, and the City: Mixed-Media Walks. Students walk and engage in a variety of artistic projects, exercises, and experiments to open up their minds to the world and art around them, connecting them with the urban space. Urban space is the inner core of a city and the highly populated residential and commercial areas adjacent to the city center. Each lesson students will be taught about significant artists and techniques through experiential learning, and stimulating sensorial and artistic skills. Each day the students learn a different style of contemporary art. By the end of the day they will be able to broaden their knowledge and observations of the space around them psychologically, philosophically, and artistically. Prof. Moretti and his students explained the lesson the day before to me. Students broke into groups and Google mapped a strict destination. Then they would record their observations, thoughts, and feelings on the overall walk with a large group. Next, they would break into a smaller group and follow a compass for a period of time and reflect again. The next walk would be with two people and each would pick a street to walk down. The students flipped a coin and chose head or tails, whichever one it landed on would be the street they walked down.

The last walk the students did individually and went wherever they liked, then documented their perception from the walk. One student spoke on how she thinks of this class by “art of noticing.” After the first week the student felt as she has been able to open up more to the people around her. The students mentioned how they find themselves walking towards somewhere that makes them feel calm and they start noticing more of the atmosphere surrounding them. The objective of this lesson was to identify how overlapping walks affects spatial perception, assess how speed interacts with time and space, and record similarities and differences when walking in the same or opposite direction.

Prof. Giamparide Moretti is an artist himself and the professor for the new course, embedded in the Department of Mixed Media. Contemporary art is a complex understanding and Prof. Moretti is teaching students about the concept through present time. Experiences in life are the main source for students to learn because contemporary artists don’t usually work inside a studio. “The body is a tool that we use to learn,” says Moretti. While walking throughout the city during the lessons you get to feel the raw and real emotions of the impact the city has on you. The course aims for the students to become more open minded because that is most valuable when learning contemporary art.

The lesson I attended explained how everyday objects can also be turned into art. The notion behind this principle is called “ready-made.” The object Prof. Moretti used for the lesson was a chair. He wanted students to first take turns sitting in different chairs and observe what they are made out of, which one they like the best, and the different uses for each chair. Then the students walked to the Carriage Gallery of Palazzo Medici Riccardi. In the gallery you can find Claudio Parmiggiani art of water vehicles transported to land. Four canoes sit on the ground possibly gliding towards a distant or undetectable destination; or they might be moving away from their starting point to a new land. The boats are carrying powders of different colors. “Miraculous, precious materials, the quintessence of a glorious history; pure pigments, the inalienable substance of every pictorial apparition,” as stated in Metropolitan City of Florence website. The objective of this was to realize that although canoes were initially created to sit in for transportation, the artist took a canoe and changed the significance of it and created it into a concept of art. The intention of the boat changed because he developed a new motive for the boat.

Ready-made: any object can be a work of art if intended to be. In the following hours, students walked about various parts of the city sitting on different types of seating places that people use every day. The chairs included steps, little nooks on the street, cement blocks, restaurant chairs, and fountain steps. Students observed how people inhabited the urban space around them by sitting. Were they relaxing? Reading? Eating? Socializing? How did people change in the environment they were around?

Art, Space, and the City: Mixed-Media Walks - Professor Giamparide Moretti.

Art, Space, and the City: Mixed-Media Walk is a course that allows students to think of new ideas, perspectives, and open up their mind to the space around them. Students with different backgrounds and majors have found useful knowledge for their studies through this course. It includes learning psychological, philosophical, and artistic values of life. How can the urban space around you affect the way you walk, talk, notice, or act? In this course you interact with the city’s cultural, historical, and architectural layouts, capturing hidden and unusual perspectives and dimensions.

FUA-AUF launches a new internship program at Careggi University Hospital

This month, Florence University of the Arts – The American University of Florence launches a new internship program for international nursing students, offering the opportunity to take clinical placements at Careggi University Hospital.

International students will be able to enhance their academic experience with professional practice, and learn on the job from nurses at the hospital, who will guide and mentor them. The project also serves to strengthen ties between the local community and a diverse group of international students, who will learn how different hospital systems work and improve cultural competence through patient care and relationships with colleagues.

Read the full article on The Florentine

The Future of Fashion | Students in Florence Define Tomorrow’s Trends

By Gabby Burdick
Special Project: Experiential Learning in Journalism

Much like Milan, New York City, and Paris, Florence is commonly considered one of the world's fashion capitals. However, different from these other cities, Florence is better known as a fashion capital by those who work directly in the industry than by the general public. 

From retailers to producers, Florence is the hotspot for industry professionals to observe upcoming fashion trends and innovations. The city is recognized as the perfect place for those who want to learn more about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the fashion industry. 

Students from various places travel specifically to Florence for their renowned fashion programs. One specific group of students came all the way from Fairfield University in Connecticut to expand their fashion knowledge. 

While these students have an extremely strong interest in the fashion industry, they’re unable to further their experience back in Fairfield, as there’s no fashion marketing program offered directly on campus. So, these marketing students have traveled almost 700 miles to study in Florence for five months and pursue their interests in fashion. 

The fashion marketing students at Florence University of the Arts - The American University of Florence, involved in a program called the School of Fashion and Accessory Studies and Technology (FAST), work to research trend habits, shape and maintain brands, and provide retail customers with a satisfactory shopping experience. 

The students learn and engage in experiential projects at a public retail store called Fashion Loves You (FLY), which offers an array of student-made and vintage designer clothing and accessories. Recently, the marketing students have been learning how to properly serve clients at FLY. 

Fashion instructor Christina Ferro advised the students to observe what shoppers look like and what they’re wearing in order to helpfully suggest an item they feel the shopper would buy. To practice this skill, Ferro described a potential customer and told students to build them an outfit. 

The first client Ferro described was a classy Parisian woman with a sophisticated sense of style. Immediately, the students went to work, racing around the store, leafing through multiple racks of fur coats and lacey gowns while Ferro offered advice. 

“Whenever we have someone who’s French, show them the French stuff immediately. It gets them in the mood and shows them that you respect them,” Ferro said. 

The students began pulling out pieces of Chanel, chic and formal, to accommodate the hypothetical French shopper's sense of style. 

This activity continued on with a few more potential shoppers, one of them being a young Russian woman with an eccentric, colorful, and maximal sense of style.

One student, Ella Cimino, immediately pulled out a fur hat with a long raccoon tail draped from the back. 

“Fur makes me think Russian right away, that’s why I chose it,” Cimino said. Another student, Simona Gheorghe, pulled out a pair of bright red, knee-high boots. 

“She’s very out there, so I immediately thought of red. You can never go wrong with a pop of color,” Gheorghe said. 

The more these exercises went on, the quicker the students were able to pick out clothing and accessories for these hypothetical clients. The point of the activity was to push the students to get a better understanding of a customer's wants and needs so they can successfully serve a client base in the future. 

This type of experiential learning allows the students to work directly with the customers who are interested in supporting the brand they’re shaping and buying the products they market. 

The student’s experiential learning continues outside of FLY at Pitti Uomo. Located at Fortezza da Basso in Florence, Pitti Uomo is a trade show intended to launch new trends and designs in men's fashion. 

The purpose of a tradeshow is for brands to showcase their latest collections to buyers, acting as the meeting point between the manufacturing and the retail sides of the fashion industry. 

The students attended the show on the last day of the event, where they were instructed to examine trends and concentrate on branding and marketing in the fashion industry. Angela Belsino, the general director at FLY, explained the purpose of the student’s visit to the trade show. 

“They will focus on the marketing side of the trade show; it’s a moment for all the main brands and new designers to meet with the industry,” Belsino said. “They’re going to look at three brands and reflect on the promotional and marketing sides, the styles, and fashion forecasting.” 

The trade show is a way for these fashion students to apply their learning to the professional fashion world, and Pitti Uomo is just about as professional as it gets. 

Fashion marketing student Danielle Wass enjoyed her time at Pitti Uomo and felt as though she learned a lot about the industry. 

“It was really interesting to interact with designers, and it was especially cool to see buyers interact with designers,” Wass said. 

Students like Anton Licanele described the trade show as a very “hands-on” aspect of everything they’ve been learning about.

Wass and Licanele are both very excited to see what the rest of the semester will entail. 

Angela Belsino explained that towards the end of the semester, the students will put on a final show displaying pieces created by the fashion design students; the event will be organized by the fashion marketing students. 

The marketing students will be selecting the pieces showcased in the event, a cultivation of all the styling and branding skills they’ll learn throughout the semester.

FUA-AUF /SBU XII Annual Academic Conference

Garden of Culture: Calvino's Memos for the New Millennium.

Florence University of The Arts-The American University of Florence and Stony Brook University 12th  Annual Academic Conference program with speaker and panel lineups is now available.

The Conference will be held on December 1 and 2, 2023, from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, in Florence, Italy.

Inaugural activities will take place at the Gabinetto Vieusseux, in the Sala Ferri at Palazzo Strozzi, at 9:30am (registration from 9:00-9:30am) on December 1. Featured speakers at the inauguration include:

The Conference will carry on at Corso dei Tintori 21, starting with tlunch on December 1 and continue at this location until its end on December 2. Service, food and beverage for the entire conference will be provided in collaboration with students and faculty from the FUA-AUF Hospitality Department, Apicius International School of Hospitality.

2023 marks the centenary of the birth of Italo Calvino (1923-1985), and in commemoration, Florence University of The Arts-The American University of Florence will explore his personal, artistic, and cultural heritage, adopting, as always, an interdisciplinary academic approach.

Italo Calvino's perspective on literature and the role of intellectuals owes much to the writer's early connections with nature as a place of study and pleasure. Images of a devoted gardener and playful child come to mind immediately when exploring Calvino's attitude towards his own books, the books of others, and cultures as territories to observe, understand, enjoy, care for, and cultivate, so as to reap their fruits.

Our imaginary world has been shaped by Calvino's unforgettable characters, interacting with nature in surprising ways: Marcovaldo, searching for nature in the insidious contemporary city; the Baron in the Trees, with his carefree and revolutionary ecological battle; Pin, whose secret place in the woods is where spiders build their nests; Palomar's scientific standards through compulsive observation of nature...

Focusing on Calvino's literary legacy, particularly addressing the Six Memos for the Next Millennium (lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency), "Gardens of Culture" will encourage participants to reflect on the various aspects of the word "culture" – from the Latin verb colere, meaning "to work, cultivate" – in cultivating human beings and the natural spaces that host them.

FUA- AUF  students will present a special panel as well as an art exhibit.

We are excited for the conference and hope to meet many of you there to experience it together!

To attend please contact conferences@fua-auf.it.

Download the complete program for detailed information.

conference program

Gardens of Culture: Italo Calvino's Memos for the New Millennium.


FUA-AUF 12th Annual Conference Fall 2023

Florence University of The Arts-The American University of Florence and SUNY Stony Brook are pleased to announce their 12th annual academic conference:

Conference Dates and Venue

The conference will be hosted at the FUA-AUF campus in Florence on December 1st and 2nd, 2023.

Conference Theme

Gardens of Culture: Italo Calvino's Memos for the New Millennium.

Conference Call for Papers

The call for papers is now officially open. The deadline for submission is Monday, August 28th, 2023.

Featured Topics

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

Contact Info

The conference is open to the general public. To RSVP please email conferences@fua.it.

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Pomario

The Pomario Botanical Retail store is FUA-AUF’s most recent CEMI (community engagement member institution) initiative. Pomario is operated by students and faculty members of the School of Business at FUA-AUF, where students are given the opportunity to learn about urban ecology in both the classroom and through a hands-on professional approach as well. Pomario allows students to interact with the local community to educate residents through botany, sustainability, and horticulture.

At its core, Pomario aims to support and spread knowledge on how to lead a greener and more sustainable lifestyle. Much like many of FUA-AUF’s CEMI initiatives, Pomario is built on the institution’s commitment to education through experiential learning.

Some of the services and products offered by Pomario are:

- Ongoing selection and curation of plant varieties

- Special expansion of vegetables

- Collaborations with other local entities

- Development of events that feature hands-on learning experiences

- Green retail management

- Sustainable marketing and promotion

- Involvement in green/sustainability events hosted at the Palazzi Community Center

Pomario offers a vast selection of plants and gardening items; however, it is much more than just a retail store for purchasing plants. With a focus on supporting community seminars that place emphasis on horticulture themes, Pomario organizes multiple sustainably-friendly initiatives and activities that are open to anyone who wishes to attend. Thanks to the store’s Via Ricasoli location at the Palazzi Community Center, students, faculty, and visitors alike can benefit from the center’s Cafaggio del Vescovo gardens featuring citrus trees, herbs, and plants of many varieties.FUA-AUF is constantly redefining and reinventing what it means to learn in an international setting. Going beyond the classroom and immersing students in the community, FUA-AUF cultivates and helps to develop students’ global perspective by exposing them to new ideas, issues, and solutions through the city of Florence. Through an experience-oriented approach, FUA-AUF students are transformed into citizens of the world with a greener global outlook.

Gap Year in Florence

FUA-AUF Gap Year Programs go beyond the concept of “spending a year abroad” by offering options that are both focused and flexible for diverse participants.

With the aim of different needs and interests in mind, the following programs are an opportunity to enhance and internationalize college pathways, careers, and volunteer experiences in the stimulating environment of Florence, Italy.

Program Options

The FUA-AUF campus and Florentine community are a dynamic extended network of learning and experience-building spaces. The unique educational model ensures that all Gap Year participants, while participating in the above tailored options, are fully involved in program activities leading to cultural integration, community engagement, and experiential learning.

Further details can be found in the Gap Year Program prospective students page. For information requests please contact admissions@fua.it. 

Almost Nothing: Faculty Exhibit

The “Almost Nothing” exhibit by Nicoletta Salomon opened on Thursday, June 3, 2021, at 6 pm in Via Ricasoli 21, and showcased 23 contemporary art pieces.

The artworks were exhibited at the Corridoio Fiorentino, which collects, preserves, exhibits, and showcases artwork by FUA-AUF students/faculty and professional artists. Nicoletta Salomon is a writer, painter, and faculty member of writing and fine arts at FUA-AUF. Salomon said that art is a way of life and a way for her to communicate with others. Her canvases and paintings depict her thoughts, emotions, and memories. Salomon created her pieces for the exhibit during COVID-19, and they represent her thoughts and feelings from that time spent in isolation. Her main inspiration for this project was the silence experienced during the pandemic’s lockdowns and limited interaction with others.Though she is used to working from home in her home studio, Salomon shares that this experience was different. She was deeply affected by the silence around her, and concentrated on the feeling of stillness. The sense of solitude was not physical because she had her family with her, but rather, it was a spiritual solitude to which she eventually became accustomed. She is unsure of whether enjoyment can be located at all within the experience, but she definitely became accustomed to it out of necessity. Salomon’s depiction of inner silence and the feelings associated with are evident throughout the exhibit. The absence of stimuli changed her perspective on her art and taught her how to concentrate more on her inner self.The background to these paintings is lighter than her usual darkness, and the colors used are more subdued – there is a calmer, quieter sense to them, making them lighter overall. She chose to combine this lighter palette with unprimed linen to eliminate the duality between color and canvas, for them to be one unified element. "I didn't want my canvas to be just a supporting[base], something that passively bears the colors," said Salomon.The works could be interpreted as landscapes. Salomon used squares and horizontal lines, with a frontal perspective of air and water in them. They don't touch, but instead, they float in proximity to each other. This certainly not the only interpretation, and the works can be seen figuratively or non-figuratively. She enjoys how her painting can be read differently by each person.Her feelings toward the solitude experienced while creating these paintings can also be seen in the brushstrokes on the canvas. There is a movement to her brushstrokes that is varied and shows that they are not peaceful. They sometimes show quiet movement, at other times they are rushed. What emerges is her changing relationship with solitude during the pandemic, and the peace and struggles she faced.

The title "Almost Nothing" refers to how Salomon stripped the paintings down to their bones.
This project allowed her to experience painting with a limited palette and a bare canvas, and the
name refers to the creative process rather than the outcome.
Though the thoughts and emotions portrayed in these works of art are her own from the
lockdown, Salomon’s overall message for exhibit viewers is the "freedom to project their own
views and emotions" onto her paintings.
The exhibit can also be viewed online at the Corridoio Fiorentino digital gallery.

By Cristina Gallè - Journalism Student at Humber College, Canada

FUA-AUF Course: Special Project: Experiential Learning in Journalism - Iconic Florence Remote Learning Student - Summer 2021

WWAC: Walks Without a Classroom

Learning takes place in many shapes and forms.

The standard approach adopted by many institutions is classroom-based lectures, in which the learning path is guided by the instructor and textbook. Going beyond the classroom eliminates potential constraints in separation between students and the subject, and helps foster a student's innate sense of curiosity and discovery. Ultimately, a stronger bond with the subject taught is possible through diverse learning methodologies. This is especially true for international students who juggle the challenges of coursework and living in a new culture and environment.

At FUA-AUF, courses are constantly designed to inspire and challenge students through both content and delivery through immersive and experience-oriented approaches. The institution’s unique course methodology WWAC - Walks Without A Classroom - allows students to experience coursework fulfilled outside of the classroom space through engagement with a local environment.

This innovative style of teaching and learning encourages a more active participation in course topics. For each lesson, students are introduced to an academic theme elaborated through various locations, spaces, and sites in the city of Florence. Lectures are delivered directly within the context represented by the topic, and encourage students to discover the depth of the place-topic connections covered.

The result is a hands-on learning journey supported by the rich background of Florence from its culture and history to societal structures, economy, and architecture. Complemented by course readings, research, journaling, and mapping activities in addition to standard assignment and exam requirements, WWAC courses provide a robust education that deepens knowledge and an international student’s personal connection with the hosting environment. 

WWAC courses cover diverse disciplines including literature, philosophy, fashion, art history, and food.

Upcoming course offerings may be viewed at the academic course schedule

For further information contact: admissions@fua.it