Temple Rome Tracy Huang

Made In Italy

Thursdays are either the best or worst days of my week.  I have two three-hour class excursions and another class, which means I am in class from 8:30 AM to 6:10 PM.  Definitely not ideal, but this past Thursday was one of my best days in Rome!

In my Digital Imaging class, Professor Liana Miuccio took us to MACRO Testaccio, which is the branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome located in the Testaccio neighborhood.  There, Professor Miuccio’s work was on display.  Inspired by Andy Warhol’s “Screen Tests” of 1964-66, she combines still and moving images to create a story about the local market.  After taking pictures of vendors in their respective stalls, Professor Miuccio had instructed them to look at the video camera for ten seconds.  Merging the portrait with the video clip, Professor Miuccio was able to create a collection of “Extended Portraits” that showcases the diversity and charm of the market.  Figo, no?  (“Figo” means cool in Italian, by the way)  I mean, how many people can say their photography teacher has an exhibit in the only contemporary art museum in Rome?  It reminds me fondly of Duke.  In the Pratt School of Engineering, my professors have so many quirks and oddities that I forget how accomplished they are until I look at their resumes online.  As I scroll through list upon list of awards and publications, I am humbled as I realize how lucky I am to learn from them.  In the same way, seeing Professor Miuccio’s exhibition inspired me to push my photography even further.  And that is when I captured this:

Tessa Smucker, a photography major at the Tyler School of Art, leaping in MACRO Testaccio.

Not bad, eh?

In the late afternoon, Professor Katherine Krizek of my Inside Italian Design class took us to the former atelier of the Sorelle Fontana fashion house, which was founded in Rome 1943 by the three Fontana sisters, Zoe, Giovanna, and Micol.

Fontana sisters

In a time when Paris ruled the fashion industry, these leading ladies brought Italian design to international fame.  The building is now the location of the Fondazione Micol Fontana, which was established in 1994 by Micol Fontana to be an archive of the original dresses, sketches, embroideries, and accessories that have inspired and will continue to inspire generations to come.  Looking at the dresses worn by Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Jackie O, I was speechless.  Everything on these elaborate gowns was done by hand.  One of them even featured a hand-painted design on silk!  Furthermore, Sorelle Fontana worked with young, contemporary artists to make unique silk prints, organized shows exhibiting both fashion and art, and designed dresses for which the fabric had to be made for them (not the other way around, as is the method today).  However, the secret to their success, as explained by the granddaughter of Zoe Fontana, was not due to any of the previously listed points, but rather, to their ability to bond with clients and propose a design that would be fashionable, yet still fit the client’s needs.  For example, if Ava Gardner needed a dress for a film, the Fontana sisters would read the script before thinking about the garment.  That was their way of personalization.  That is real haute couture.

Sorelle Fontana Atelier

After such an amazing site visit, I cannot wait for Milan (with Professor Krizek) this weekend!

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