Summer in Florence
Any artist given the opportunity to go to Florence, Italy, for a month to take photographs would not pass up the chance. So when students at IU South Bend heard about last summer’s six credit hour course, “Street Photography in Florence,” they made sure their names were on the roster. The International Studies program at IU South Bend gave Professor Susan Moore and her group of students the chance to travel to Italy in June to experience this dynamic city. To prepare for the trip, students read the book called, The Art of Florence, by Glenn M. Andres, John Hunisak, and Richard Turner, participated in a general orientation about living in Florence, and met with Professor Moore to assess their individual skill levels in photography.
With a small class, the course gave students a chance to independently study photography and concentrate on their personal interests when shooting pictures. They could work closely with Professor Moore as well as with each other. The students chose a focus for their pictures and created a portfolio of their work upon returning to IU South Bend’s campus. Sophomore, Lucas Zigler, chose photographs that stirred emotion in him for his final portfolio. As a photographer who usually stages his shots, Zigler learned how to take pictures with more spontaneity and find things that interested him. Lindsay Dadosky, an IU South Bend student with little photography background, created a portfolio with pictures portraying everyday life in Italy. While going through her photographs, Dadosky noticed the way people interacted and lived their lives in Italy.
The group went on daily field trips in and outside the city of Florence to find subjects to photograph. Zigler, who is planning to double major in photography and graphic design, said, “An average day in Florence ranged between so many things. Class could have taken us across town to the Boboli Gardens or to walk the wall in Luca or a day in Chianti.” The group also visited museums, cathedrals, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and even stayed overnight in Venice to take part in a night photography walk and the Biennale. “[That] was my favorite part,” said Zigler. “The Biennale…a huge contemporary art exhibit with artists from all over the world that spanned the entire island of Venice, was a treat.” The Biennale, which is Italian for “every other year,” is the biggest influence on the time the group chooses to go to Florence, said Moore. This art exhibit is run by Arte Studio and is also shown in many other cities.
Professor Moore said students were placed in apartments affiliated with host school, Santa Reparata International School of Art (SRISA), and had to figure out how to buy food and coffee, despite not speaking Italian. With days full of walking around the city, the students sometimes needed that extra boost of espresso. Zigler confessed to stopping four to five times a day for the energetic treat. “I’m already far too excited about coffee…so being in a country with some of the best espresso was too good to pass up,” said Zigler. He even brought home a couple tins of Italian coffee “that didn’t last nearly long enough.”
Living in Florence for a month gave the students a unique opportunity to explore and understand the European culture. “They are very laid back people that are not in a hurry,” said secondary education major, Dadosky. Life is lived at a much slower pace in Italy. It “was so enjoyable and difficult to come back to my American way of go, go, go and exact times,” said Dadosky.
The historic and artistic beauty that makes the city so famous was a new experience for the students. Being surrounded by pieces studied in art history classes up close was very surreal for Zigler. “From our window we could see the Duomo and on the same block as our apartment was Michelangelo’s David.” Dadosky was also impressed with the abundance of art throughout the city. “I was amazed at all the art and architecture I saw and sometimes it became sensory overload. We were all amazed at the Duomo and the light on the buildings when we first arrived,” said Dadosky.
Everyday in Florence wasn’t just about visiting tourist attractions and seeing famous artwork. Professor Moore said that regular classes were held in SRISA’s classrooms and a darkroom was available for the students to print pictures while they were there. Dadosky said that mornings were reserved for shooting and trips, but most afternoons were dedicated to lectures from Professor Moore. During class, the group critiqued their photographs and discussed ways to improve their shots.
The next photography trip is planned for Summer 2011. Moore hopes to make the trip more affordable by providing additional funding through fundraisers.