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Florence, Italy: Through the Eyes of Its Masters

Florence, Italy: Through the Eyes of Its Masters

Summer 2015
4-weeks on-site in Florence (mid May- mid June) with scheduled pre- and post-trip class meetings at MIAD

  • 3 Studio Credits + 3 Liberal Studies Credits (6 credits total)
  • FA396: Fine Arts Studio Travel Elective OR DS396: Design Studio Travel Elective
  • HS396 Humanities Travel Elective OR ARTH396 Art History Travel Elective
  • Pre-requisites: Completed Freshman year by time of travel and instructor approval

Florence has long been seen as the pioneering city of the Renaissance and considered the cultural capital of Europe. Local names like Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Masaccio are synonymous with the city and the art world itself. While today many know these Florentine masters for their contributions to art, architecture, design, engineering and philosophy, many artists were deeply involved in the political intrigue and cultural ideals beneath this visual façade. To these artists, public art and architecture were more than just beautiful objects and structures to look at – they served as blatant messages to the people of Florence, saturating the city with messages of faith, propaganda and patriotism.

Florence: Through the Eyes of Its Masters willoffer a compelling and engaging view of Florence during the Renaissance. Through the study of public sculpture, painting and architecture along with reading of contemporary biography, autobiography and historical accounts, students will view Florence through the eyes of those who defined the era. Subject, form and inscriptions will be analyzed to reveal the specific messages and suggestions instilled in works sponsored by the Catholic church, republican government and elite families, including the Medici. Direct engagement with the writings of Dante, Machiavelli, Vasari and Cellini will present ‘eyewitness’ accounts of contemporary Florentine artistic culture, religious ideals, philosophical concepts and ruthless political machinations. Students will learn to recognize how biblical narrative, ancient history and classical mythology were not just engaging artistic subjects, but ways to elevate the glories of the ancient – propagandistically driving patriotic fervor, commercial ambition and political rivalries.

The course will focus on how public works of art were viewed and experienced by the citizens of Renaissance Florence. While students will study many original works in museums, the focus will be to take students into the lively streets of Florence itself, experiencing the broad range of public piazzas, palazzos and churches, where public art was used to inspire, warn and instruct. Students will uncover that Florence was and is more than just a city filled with famous works, but a work of art in its own right, enveloping its people in layers of messages and meanings. Students will also be challenged to recognize how similar layers of meaning are incorporated into modern Florence through advertising, industrial design, graphic approaches and modern styles of sculpture, painting and architecture.

Student’s on-site research will be expanded by discussions, journaling, sketching, photography and other means. Students will produce a research paper and a final studio project based upon the strengths of the student’s major. Projects will be completed upon return to MIAD and an exhibition of student work will be installed prior to the start of the fall semester.

Phil Belair is Professor of Communication Design at MIAD. Prior to teaching, he spent over 20 years working in-house as a creative director and brand identity director for some of Milwaukee’s best-known businesses. Phil is also a landscape painter and has exhibited works in the juried Wisconsin Artists Biennial and the Hidden River Festival of the Arts. He was the studio faculty in MIAD’s 2012 Florence program.
Michael Aschenbrenner is an art historian and Adjunct Associate Professor who has taught at MIAD since 2006. He also teaches art history classes at Carroll University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While his major focus is American landscape and genre painters (many of whom drew personal inspiration from Tuscany, Florence and Rome), Michael has also taught upper-level courses at MIAD on Northern Renaissance and High Renaissance art. This will be Michael’s third time teaching in MIAD’s Florence program.

Estimated Travel/ Course Fee:  $4495
Includes 6 credits MIAD summer tuition, housing, field trips and museum admissions, travel health/safety insurance during program dates, and several group meals.
Students are responsible for necessary passports or visas. Airfare is NOT included.
(Roundtrip airfare is estimated at $1200.)
Students typically stay in a large group apartment in the city center with WIFI, kitchen facilities and communal space.
Application Deadline:  December 1, 2014. 
Study Abroad Grant Application Deadline: November 17, 2014* Interested students must apply for the program and complete an application packet (download from MIAD website or available outside of office 450B). Space is limited. Completed application forms must include a deposit of $600 payable to MIAD Ireland Program, a statement of interest, 2 letters of reference and financial aid form (whether requesting aid or not). *Students interested in being considered for this year’s Study Abroad Need-Based Grants must submit their complete application package by November 17, 2014.
After student is accepted into the program, the deposit is non-refundable.
Students must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5.
Minimum enrollment must be met for program to run. Deposits will be returned if program is canceled because of insufficient enrollment or if student is not accepted. (Because MIAD may be incurring costs upon students’ behalf, a portion of fees beyond the deposit may be non-refundable after a certain date.)
Financial Aid: 
Financial aid is available for qualified students. Interested students should inquire at the MIAD Financial Aid office ASAP to determine individual eligibility. Students should be aware that financial aid cannot be distributed any earlier than 5-7 days before the start of the summer term, so students should plan other means to cover earlier required payments and purchases.

Payment Schedule: 
Payments on balance of course fee and tuition* will be due in the MIAD Student Accounts Office. Sample payment schedule based on estimated tuition/course fee noted:

December 1, 2014 – $600 Deposit must accompany application
(non-refundable after program acceptance)
January 30, 2015 – $350 
March 20, 2015 – $350
May 1, 2015 – $3195 FINAL PAYMENT** 

Full payment is REQUIRED before program begins.
– Payments beyond initial deposit may also be non-refundable if expenses have already been paid on participant’s behalf.
** Students who are expecting financial aid for summer semester can elect to have this applied to their final payment.

Jenny Krantz, Director, Creative Learning Opportunities & Research – 
Office – 450B