Paride Moretti's “OMO”

On October 19th, a handful of students studying gallery creation at Florence University of The Arts - The American University of Florence hosted an exhibition on Corridoio Fiorentino. In a dazzling debut, Italian artist Paride Moretti premiered his first exhibition, making an enduring impression on the world of art. Titled "OMO," this exhibition stands as a testament to Moretti's remarkable talent and marks an exceptional partnership with FUA-AUF which provided the creative medium and proudly involved students in its creation.

Moretti, a gifted artist and esteemed professor at FUA-AUF, has earned acclaim for his unique approach to art that captures the neglected beauty of everyday commutes. . As he aptly puts it, "My art takes shape during my daily train journeys, where I sketch thoughts and ideas that become the essence of my drawings."

"OMO" serves as a profound exploration of the everyday, artfully transforming mundane moments into extraordinary masterpieces. Moretti's background in classical arts is evident in the meticulous detailing and precision that grace each of his works. This exhibition serves as an open invitation to viewers to delve into life's intricacies through art, showcasing the power of ordinary moments. Students from the gallery and exhibition curating experiential learning class worked with the professor to study and analyze Moretti’s artwork and decide which pieces to put in the gallery and how to design the layout of the exhibition.

In his artist statement, Moretti shares, "The heart of my art lies in challenging viewers to see the world from a fresh perspective. Life's unassuming moments carry profound significance when we invest time in understanding them. Through my drawings, I aspire to guide people to think more deeply and find unique interpretations within life's everyday treasures."

The exhibition features a curated collection of Moretti's drawings, and the passionate artistry behind every stroke and shade has resonated profoundly with art enthusiasts. Moretti's ability to transcend the ordinary encourages viewers to reflect on the narratives concealed within their own daily routines.

"OMO" represents a captivating fusion of classical artistry, unconventional inspiration, and a profound message that extends beyond the confines of the canvas. Underscoring the fruitful collaboration between Moretti, students from FUA-AUF, and the wider community, Paride Moretti's inaugural exhibition undeniably establishes him as an artist to appreciate, and leaves a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to experience his work, and it underscores the fruitful collaboration between Moretti, students from FUA-AUF, and the wider community. The exhibition will remain on display at Via Ricasoli 21 until November 16th. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the synergy of artistic brilliance, student involvement, and academic engagement. Moretti's art speaks volumes – it offers a tantalising glimpse into what the future holds for art enthusiasts worldwide, and is enough to inspire and amaze.

The woman who shaped Florence’s destiny

By Meredith Bach

Around sunset on October 10th, someone is singing loudly, gorgeously, from the garden in the Fedora cafe. The song is the Trionfo di Bacco, or the “Triumph of Bacchus” by Lorenzo “the magnificent” de’Medici. A woman performs it to the crowd as a part of the Palazzi Community Center’s most recent event: a book exhibition, historical lesson, and artistic performance all tied into one.  

Gone are the laptops and backpacks from the busy school day in the courtyard. Instead, the area displays a semicircular arrangement of chairs and tables, lit warmly by tiny yellow lamps and twinkle lights. At the front of it all is the speaker of the night, Marialuisa Bianchi.  

Bianchi is a historian and author of the book “History of Florence: The Precious Legacy of the Last Medici Princess Who Shaped the City’s Destiny.” For the event, she guides the garden through the legacy of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, the woman who is credited with providing much of the Florentine art and monuments in the city today. In 1737, Anna Maria Luisa stipulated the “Family Pact,” which essentially gave over the Medici family’s massive artistic collection to the state for the benefit of the public. Not only did this pact preserve a myriad of cultural treasures, but it also made them accessible to everyone, further developing the tourist industry and artistic importance of Florence.  

Tuesday night’s presentation detailed multiple Florentine fortunes that may not have been so accessible if it weren’t for Anna Maria Luisa’s work: the Duomo, the statue of David, and Botticelli’s “Primavera” painting, to name a few. With her friend as an English reader, Bianchi presented an informative summary of these works alongside a live reading of her novel. While the presentation provided clarifying facts, the book gave insight into the princesses’ personal and emotional experiences with the artistic pieces.  

“I tried to go into the head of the Princess,” explains Bianchi, “so I could really tell why she did the Pacte de Famille... she moved things for the future of the Florentine people.”  

All around her, Florentine people—students, scholars, and citizens--- lean forward in their seats, eyes attentive, heads nodding in approval. Some raise their hands to question or comment as she goes along. The garden turns into a space of curiosity and conversation.  

An Italian studies student even goes up to the front to speak with Bianchi in Italian. She is joined in the audience by several university students who enhance the event. Journalists, photographers, and hospitality students speckle the crowd. 

“That’s our goal,” told us Valentina Monacò Director of the Palazzi Community Center

and organizer of the event , “we try to find courses and students that can be involved in the events so that you can have your hands-on experience and learn a little more.”  She encourages students to attend the Community center’s next upcoming event, an art exhibition opening, on Thursday, October 19th in the Via Ricasoli 21 building.

Cuoralberi Exhibit

By London Gailey, Megan Fox, Meghan Maci, Carley Donnelly

The “Dome Bulfaro” art exhibition held on Thursday June 22, 2023 was hosted by a handful of students studying gallery and exhibition creation at FUA-AUF. The artwork was created by Italian artist Dome Bulfaro, featuring his creative watercolor pieces and poetry. “[Bulfaro] gets his inspiration by observing the world around him and considers himself to be in touch with nature and includes this in his works often,” one curating gallery SPEL student said in a speech at the exhibition. Bulfaro enhances his artwork by
writing lines of poetry on the pieces. In a discussion with the class Bulfaro said “art is a snapshot of life,” and he expresses this belief through colorful pieces of art inspired by nature and everyday life.

Students from the gallery and exhibition curating experiential learning class worked under professor Lapo Morgantini to study and analyze Bulfaro’s artwork and decide which pieces to put in the gallery and how to design the layout of the exhibition.
They also worked closely with Bulfaro to make both of their visions come to fruition. The students have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to the design and production of the exhibit. “We talked to the artist and got a feel for his creative side, the spiritual
side…we narrowed it down until you all agree on one and the professor along the way always says ‘you tell me’ so it’s a little scary but I think it turned out well,” said student Sabrina Martinez-Vicenttin. Bulfaro was excited to work with the students and display
his artwork for the first time in the city of Florence. He valued their opinions and enjoyed working with the students on the creation of the exhibition. When asked about his experience working with the class he said “imagine not a tree but a forest,” to emphasize
the teamwork that went into the gallery. He also expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the students' hard work and attention to detail by saying, “it is not my exhibition it is our exhibition,” during his speech during the event. The guests at the exhibition were able
to enjoy his art hung up all throughout the space, and were even able to purchase his work at the showcase.

Overall, the exhibition was an inspiring event that brought the FUA-AUF and local community together by getting the chance to view and read creative, colorful, and expressive pieces of art and poetry.

Tiny Florence Exhibit

By London Gailey, Megan Fox, Meghan Maci, Carley Donnelly

The “Tiny Florence” art exhibition held on Friday June 2, 2023 was a showcase for students who spent the past 3 weeks in an Introduction to Digital Photography and Landscape and Architectural photography class. These students learned the basic skills of how to use a professional camera, edit their photos, and capture meaningful moments. Another group of students from the Art Curation course played a large role in the success of the “Tiny Florence” exhibition as well. These students helped organize, plan the event, and helped select the best photos that the community saw during the showcase. “Tiny Florence” was about capturing a small, unique, and meaningful photo anywhere in Florence. The photos included a variety of subjects from children playing, to a small detail of a large monument displayed on the walls. The exhibition itself was a unique experience because every detail was produced by FUA-AUF students from the warm greeting as you walked into the front door, to the photos on the wall. Each student had an important role to play in order to make the showcase a success. Hospitality students greeted guests with a glass of champagne to enjoy while perusing the student’s artwork. All of the artwork on display at the exhibition is for sale for 20 or 30 euro and all the proceeds go to funding students' experiences at FUA-AUF. This exhibition was a chance for students to showcase their work to the FUA-AUF and local community. We got the opportunity to go to the exhibition and interact and speak with some of the guests, artists, and event planners to hear more about some of the behind the scene work that took place.
We spoke to artist Delse Rodriguez-Del Valle who had her work displayed in the exhibit. Delse is a student in Intro to Digital Photography who was tasked with submitting 8-10 photos that would be considered for the exhibition. “The assignment was basically to encapsulate the essence of Florence and one of our field trips was to a market and our professor said have at it, this is as Florence as you can get,” said Rodriguez-Del Valle. Rodriguez-Del Valle’s photo was of a young child eating a lollipop and was one of the more candid photos on display. She has two photos on display at the exhibition, one of which was placed in a black picture frame. Another student, Jessica Vella, was a part of the art curation class and went through the photos to decide which one’s would be displayed. Every student had at least 1-2 of their photos displayed in the gallery with the top 30 photos being highlighted in a black picture frame. “We did a survey and asked students to tell a story about someone they met, which was really nice because then we knew where that photo came from, Vella said. The amount of detail and effort put into the exhibition was apparent through a speech from some of the students of the Gallery and Exhibition Curation course led by professor Lapo Morgantini. The students were encouraged to overcome cultural barriers to capture photos that they felt represent Florence and felt very rewarded in their experience.

A Stroll Through Florence

By Caylee Brand

FUA-AUF hosts a variety of weekly extracurricular activities, free to all students. These opportunities encourage students to meet others studying abroad while engaging with the community. One of these activities is City Walks, which occur every Monday evening at 8:45 pm.

Each walk tackles a new route around the city of Florence, providing insight on architecture, artwork, and interesting historical knowledge along the way, typically following a  theme. The theme of this week’s route was Lungarno, referring to the area along the riverbank of the Arno.

Anna, who works at the FUA-AUF Student Life Department, led the walk, which started at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze. Students learned that it is the largest library in all of Italy and was founded in 1714 by the Florentine scholar Antonio Magliabechi, who donated his entire collection of 30,000 books to the library.

Anna was particularly looking forward to the event as this was her first time leading a City Walks. Her favorite part was sharing her love of Florence street art with the students, and pointed out numerous works created by artist Clet Abraham, sprinkled along the route.

Another central theme discussed throughout the walk was the effect of the major flood of the Arno that occurred on November 4th, 1966. As students followed the riverbank, they learned how the flood affected much of the aforementioned architecture. Other stops along the walk were the Museo Stefano Bardini, Uffizi Gallery, Corodoio Vasariano, Ponte Santa Trinita, and more.

FUA-AUF’s City Walks provide a great opportunity to learn more about Florence, however, they are also a chance to meet other enrolled students. In the time between stops, students strike up conversations about their favorite aspects of Florence and their overall experience abroad thus far. The event ends around 10 pm, making it prime time for gelato or to wander past street musicians with new friends on the way back to everyone’s respective apartments.

Overall, FUA-AUF’s extracurricular programs like City Walks are a way to enrich one’s study abroad experience both culturally and socially. FUA offers several other activities weekly Monday through Friday, including sports night and gym classes. You can find more information on the calendar of events here.

Spotlight on SPEL

By Caylee Brand 

Florence University of the Arts – The American University of Florence highly prioritizes experiential learning, and one of the many ways they promote it is through their SPEL program.
SPEL stands for Special Project Experiential Learning, and FUA-AUF offers these programs in a wide variety of academic fields spanning from hospitality to cooking to business and many more. For example, one SPEL student, Brittney Rudat, works for the Student Life Department (SLD) at their front desk to assist with event planning and respond to student inquiries.

Rudat is a senior finishing her degree from Central Michigan here at FUA-AUF. She initially heard about the SPEL program through her home university’s study abroad advisor and was intrigued by the hands-on and immersive learning style it provides. The program runs similarly to an internship, however, it may be a more approachable option for students who do not speak Italian, as it is run completely through the English-speaking school.

SPEL students may work for the school restaurant or hotel, or help by contributing to the school’s magazine or social media. In this way, the school forms a symbiotic relationship with its students; FUA-AUF educates and mentors students to develop a stronger skillset in an area of interest and in return, students contribute to running their various facilities. As Rudat explained, “[her] main project of the semester is working on a social media plan for the Student Life Department.” However, on top of that, she answers student questions and phone calls at the front desk and attends FUA-AUF events like city walks, sports night, and mind and body sessions. She stated that sports night is her favorite event, as “it is fun to see everyone get competitive and it is welcome to both people who wanted to play and people who wanted to watch.”

Rudat says that her schedule for the SPEL is fairly flexible; she has a few five-hour shifts per week and otherwise will complete work from home. She explains that her two FUA-AUF staff mentors are incredibly helpful in answering any questions she has and giving useful advice. When asked if she would recommend a SPEL to a prospective FUA student, Rudat said, “Yes, especially if the student is interested in a more hands-on learning approach and experiences versus classroom-style learning.”

Inside the 2023 Academic Conference

By Caylee Brand and Ryan Manor

Stony Brook University and Florence University of the Arts - The American University of Florence (FUA-AUF) are pleased to announce the 12th Annual Conference entitled, Gardens of Culture: Italo Calvino’s Memos for the New Millennium. The academic conference will take place in Florence from Friday, December 1st, through Saturday, December 2nd, 2023. For the first time in two years, the conference will be held in person, allowing for the unique opportunity to engage in scholarly discussions and exchange of ideas regarding this year’s theme. As conveyed by the conference title, the theme is centered around the renowned Italian author Italo Calvino, and will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, and presentations from scholars, students, and Florentine residents. 

FUA-AUF faculty member Fabio Binarelli, who teaches Humanities and Music, and Nicoletta Salomon, who teaches in the Fine Arts Department, were named chief organizers of the 2023 conference. They decided to feature Calvino as 2023 marks his 100th birthday. They “hope to spark a new interest in his literature,” Binarelli explained. As Calvino is a household name throughout Italy and much of the world, they are eager to share his life’s work with a new generation of students to keep his legacy alive.

The conference aims to explore Calvino’s personal, artistic, and cultural heritage, through an interdisciplinary approach. Salomon stated, “Calvino has shaped not just literature, but also the way we think. So I think that…this conference will teach students how to blend critical thinking and literal thinking.” The conference will address topics and disciplines from a wide array of academic fields including architecture, art, environmental sustainability, geography, history, politics, and more. “For me Calvino is like a compass, someone that is able to guide you into different domains. He shows you the world from different perspectives, always with creativity and with a sense of a dense spirituality,” says Binarelli.

In addition to attending the conference, students have the opportunity to actively participate in a variety of ways. These include presenting their own research related to Calvino's work or themes explored in his writing, as well as participating in panel discussions and conversations with scholars and experts.

“The students are actively involved in this conference. Our students are actual presenters, so there are student panels. Coordinated by their professors, students will be invited to present their contribution at the conference. Students will be in charge to welcome guests of the conference and PR students will be in charge to take care of the overall organization. Students are not just a passive attendant of the conference, they are actively involved.”

So what are the main takeaways FUA-AUF organizers hope attendees will gain from the 2023 conference? Binarelli hopes the event will encourage people “to read more, to rediscover or discover for the first time the unforgettable characters of Calvino, or also to create their own.” As for Salomon, she is focused on spreading Calvino’s belief “that a life devoted to culture is a well-lived life.” Overall, the conference aims to shed light on the role of Calvino’s work in literary education for all ages. 
Gardens of Culture: Italo Calvino’s Memos for the New Millenium will be located at Corso Dei Tintori, 21 in Florence on December 1st and 2nd 2023. Further information can be found here, with more updates to come as the conference approaches.