Finding artistic inspiration in a trip to Italy

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Photo courtesy of RentByOwner

By Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer

For decades, Italy has been an incredibly popular travel destination due to its unique atmosphere and culture. Rebecca Goodale and Lin Lisberger believe that the country can function as an impactful experience for art students who look to expand and further their craft. USM students will have an opportunity to find artistic inspiration from the centuries old architecture and beautiful landscapes of Italy. In the summer of 2019, the USM art department will be offering a brand new course known as ART 399/599 Harvesting the Image, which allows students to travel to Italy. The course gives them the opportunity to replicate the country’s sights and beauties in their work while also enjoying the pleasures, sights, and luxuries that the country has to offer. Goodale stated that it’s meant to effectively immerse students into Italian culture, giving them a new found appreciation of not only the country, but of their own creations and skills as well.

The course is directed by two faculty members: Lin Lisberger and Rebecca Goodale. Lin Lisberger is a retired professor who was in the USM art department for 36 years. She’s a professional sculptor with over 40 years of experience. She has a degree in both literature and sculpting, earning each on opposite sides of the country. Linsberger has taught different types of art courses at USM, including sculpting. Rebecca Goodale is a professional art book maker with numerous pieces in libraries across New England. She has a B.F.A. degree in textile design so she is nothing short of qualified.

The students will spend ten days in Italy. After their arrival, they will visit several museums and notable landmarks in Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. They will also use their time during the first two days to explore locations such as the Nikki de Saint Phalle Tarot Sculpture Garden and Siena. The remaining seven nights will be spent at Spannocchia, an 1,100 acre organic farm in Tuscany that has a history of sharing its sights with art students.

The location is committed to upholding and preserving of Tuscan life which they hope lasts through the generations to come. The farm will function as a central hub, where students will explore different aspects of the farm, recording different sights that inspire them. During their time in Spannocchia, they’ll be able to visit medieval villages, gardens, sculptures and other attractions. Since it’s located a short distance away from Siena and Florence, the farm is an ideal central point of the trip.

Photo courtesy of Agriturismo

Students will arrive in Italy accompanied with a blank artist book that they have crafted themselves prior to the trip. They’ll use this book to record their sights and surroundings throughout their time abroad. Goodale specializes in making these books and will be passing her craft on to students. They’re also responsible for bringing any art supplies that they will need, however faculty will have backup supplies.

Goodale will be requiring students to submit different assignments throughout the trip. The farm itself is fit with a large art classroom where students will have daily, formal critique sessions. One assignment involves creating a drawing of a specific object each day of the trip. This could range from farm pigs, to neighboring produce, to overall landscape. Another daily task is drawing the meals they’ll have during their stay, adding even more variety to their craft.  As students draw the same subject through the trip, they will be able to compare and analyze the pieces as a whole.

Although this trip hasn’t been offered previously, however previous trips abroad have provided inspiration for this trip. In Spring of 2016, Goodale took a small group of students to the French Riviera. After this trip, she accompanied Lisburger on a similar trip to the Sudec Peninsula, Acadia. Goodale said that the students were incredibly inspired by the surrounding countryside, some of them filling up multiple books with drawings from the surrounding locations. Goodale said that some students even went above and beyond, “Some of my students filled up eight to ten books during their stay. They really took advantage of their surroundings” After seeing her student’s inspiration and passion, Goodale was inspired to host another abroad program that did something similar. She wanted to explore a place that featured similar sights and cultures without repeating the trip to France. This resulted in a following trip to Acadia, and now they have transitioned to Italy.

Goodale believes that going to a foreign country can rejuvenate an artist’s passion. She said that artist’s often hit a point in their career where they feel stuck. They could be tired of their surrounding locations. Goodale believes that creating art in a foreign country allows artists to reimagine their work, sparking their passion. She believes that a trip like this breaks routine for an artist and gives them a new sense of understanding and interpretation. Goodale said that many students in her previous ventures had been inspired and that many of the students still created art based on those locations. The majority of students already enrolled in the trip to Italy are returning students from Goodale’s previous travel courses, proving that they’re ready and eager for another taste of something new.

There are several steps in the application process, including a $200 application fee and a 200 word essay explaining why the applicant wants to attend the trip. Applicants are also required to complete at least one 200-level  art course. In replace of the prerequisites, students could also have a faculty member write a letter of recommendation. The enrollment for the course caps off at 12 people. The deadline for course applications is March 15, 2019. For more information about Spannocchia, visit spannocchia.org/.

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