Our blog bios are (finally!) complete, Dylan is already in France, and Lacey and Rachel are on their way to France and Italy. Bon voyage and buon viaggio!
In a mere 6 weeks, Dan Sutherland and I will be on our way to Italy, ready to share another amazing experience with 24 new Learning Tuscany students and our TA, Lily. LT class of 2013, we are going to see and make some extraordinary art, all the while enjoying Italy’s many delights. (To former LTers, yes, there’s room for all of you in my suitcase!). Over the next few weeks, I’ll be updating our contributors’ bios. To anyone, past or present, who has somehow been affiliated with Learning Tuscany and Santa Chiara, please follow our blog!
So yes, this experience was incredible. But my favorite was our group. One of the biggest things I didn’t expect coming here was for our group to mesh so well. I wish I had enough space to tell all my people memories but I thought I would share some of my favorites. John’s British accent and his “cosmati catastrophe.” Buying a single sausage with Naomi at the dirt bike races as our tribute to barbeque. Jana dressing up as Justin Bieber. Halley doing pull ups all over the place. Sarah Conell speaking in German. Mackenzie’s dance lessons. Rachelle’s love for fast food. Donnie becoming tour guide to get us out of the right exit in the Sistine Chapel. Kent’s chill. Amy’s big smile. Sarah Hornberger’s impressions of walking in the dark and of Ann. Olivia’s mastery over characters and our class fighting over apprentice positions. Sarah Saastimoinen standing with me for hours and listening to the stories of Pier Paolo about the cloister frescos. Lunch at La Pievuccia with Geneva. Adrienne being so cool. Watching the Bachelorette with Claire and Coco each week and talking about the guys. Jordan getting emotional about how beautiful Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne is. Alla’s “ciao peaches.” Carris making a fan out of her passport. Chris’ “laying on fire.” The taxi from Termini to our hotel a few yard away with Liana. Tara giving me a fright wearing her old Italian lady/gypsy costume. The “Hayley face,” which is much better than my stank face. Sharing watermelon on the hot day in Florence with Youhjung. Much love from Rome! I am missing Castiglion Fiorentino already.
When I came here I honestly had no idea.. No idea. It vexes me to think that at one point I imagined this study abroad to simply be just that. “Study abroad.” But from the depth of my heart, the entirety of my being, it has been so much more than that. It’s been friends. Family. Art (almost too much art). Love.
That’s it. I fell in love for the first time, and now truly understand the emotional density and ardor of such a word. Although now, it is no mere word. It’s the most valuable souvenir I could ever imagine taking back with me. And to a new life. One changed forever. Transformed by the unmistakable graces of this country. For it may be broken, but the spirit will never be. This verve alone fills my lungs with the sweetest breath.
My head with the clearest conscience. My heart with the warmth of the Tuscan sun.
I love you all. I do.
I’ve been to art shows (I assume we’ve all at least been to one – excuse this), but there was something so delightfully unsettling about the show we put on..
The cut throat atmosphere. Gone. The critical commentary. No more. An art society hardened by both of these things. Nonexistent.
Friends, we did something revolutionary. I felt it. Although our efforts may be small, our zeal for not only our own work, but for each one of our colleagues’ created such a special place. A sanctuary. A place not to glorify ourselves, but to celebrate our talents, our hard work. It was incredible. Like nothing I’ve ever seen.
Now I ask you this, why does a moment like this, a show like this, only have to exist here?
We will go back home soon, but I desperately plead with you, my friends.. Do not.. Do not accept that the art world has to remain in its current state. I want you to remember how you felt at the perfect show we put on, and let this consume your mind.
When you make art. When you see art. Celebrate what you can do. What others can do.
For it is truly, and irrevocably amazing. Remember that.