2012 Summer Mia Jester Temple Rome

Rome as a Classroom

View from Villa D’Este


Rome’s immense historical and cultural richness make it an ideal city for bustling tourists.  It is extremely common to pass large groups of people who are eager to see the sights following a tour group leader. Tour guides often brandish flags above their heads as they walk in order to be easily identifiable among the masses.  The beauty of Rome is impressionable in its own right, but gains a new depth once paired with facts and stories.  My first two weeks (which have flown by all too quickly) have brought the pleasant surprise that some of the best tour guides in Rome may just be Temple’s very own faculty.  There is no time spent watching the seconds tick in a lecture hall, as the classroom instead becomes the streets of Rome.  Though waking up early to get on site for classes is not necessarily my favorite part of the day, a shot of espresso and a croissant soon allow me to appreciate the sites that it is unlikely I would have discovered on my own.

I have really enjoyed how my classes, Rome Sketchbook and Photography, have allowed me to document my experiences in Rome thus far. Whether gesture drawing statues or focusing on piazzas through a lens, both classes have required me to slow down and truly take in everything I have the opportunity to see.   One of the first classes of Rome Sketchbook, the syllabus listed that we would be copying the works of masters. In order to do this, we were not copying from books or websites, but were actually able to see the originals of the works we were learning to reproduce.  I attempted to draw Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, a work I studied in my art history class at main campus a few years prior.  I have also really enjoyed gesture drawing at the Borghese Gardens.  I enjoy the urban life of Rome greatly, but am especially fond of the gorgeous parks that have a slower rhythm to them.  In Photography, we practice shooting in different light settings at the church Santa Maria del Popolo. We then moved on to street photography, made more interesting by the busy marketplace by Campo de Fiore and the painted street performers at Piazza Navona. We are learning about art and culture simultaneously and it has been very rewarding. It is very interesting to share work and see what classmates are being drawn to as they explore the city.  I feel it enables us to the see our surroundings in ways we might have ignored otherwise.  Copying works has also given me an even deeper respect for the masters and their approaches.

I have also been introduced to art culture I may not have encountered otherwise in extra class trips.  This week, we went to an American art Academy and Rhode Island School of Design’s galleries. It was wonderful to interact with artists and art lovers.  Today, my friend and I were especially drawn to a journal at the RISD exhibit and sought out the artist.  She recommended a popular gathering place for artists and showed us her street art. Without Temple’s faculty, such networking would not have been possible and it is refreshing to have instructors who are passionate and eager to share their connections.

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