Sculptures of Italian breads and pastries, various styles of bright paintings and intricate prints filled the Stella Elkins Tyler Gallery for the debut of the “ROMA” showcase from January 29th to February 10th.
The gallery features paintings, sculptures and prints by Master of Fine Arts students Jodi Canfield, Katharine Suchan, Alessandra Puglisi and Henry Rosenberg, who were immersed in Temple’s Rome campus in 2023. The artworks were created and inspired by the time theirs abroad.
“It’s nice to have people who have been through the Roman experience here, so I can talk to them about it and have something in common with them,” said Rosenberg, a second-year MFA printer. “Everyone’s work is great too, it was really great to work with them, get to know them and then watch their work.”
The Tyler School of Art and Architecture hosts Festa di Roma, a showcase of all things Rome, every year, but this year the four students presenting the exhibit make up the largest MFA group to have studied in Rome in more than one year. decade.
Rome’s MFA program has gotten smaller over the past 15 years because its curriculum hasn’t kept pace with subject changes in the Main Campus MFA program, said Mark Shetabi, director of Tyler’s Temple Rome. Some students may also have already traveled abroad as students and do not necessarily want to study abroad again.
“For Americans who go [to Italy]this sense of history is very provocative and very interesting to see how it is still very relevant in everyday life,” said Shetabi.
Students were given creative freedom in what they wanted to display in the showcase. Shetabi recommended that each student bring any art they created abroad to the exhibition space, and once they arrived, students could determine the story they wanted their work to tell.
“In this particular case, I’d say they ended up putting maybe 75 percent of what they brought into the gallery, and then some of the work went back into the studio,” Shetabi said. “But I left that decision up to the students mostly, I was there to advise them and provide another set of eyes if they needed it.”
Rosenberg presented his work, “Extra Time,” an imagined alternate history of the 2004 Rome Derby, a Roman soccer match interrupted by riots, and an emotional investigation of his research into Serie A, Benito Mussolini’s political reorganization of the league football in 1926. The work recognizes contemporary problems with racist and anti-Semitic “ultra” groups within football fan bases.
The writer knew he wanted to visit the Rome Temple after one of his university mentors shared his experience abroad as an MFA student.
“Once I got there, I realized that I was part of this really amazing history and lineage of printers and MFAs that were and are part of Temple Rome,” Rosenberg said. “I started getting a lot of people contacting me, they said, ‘You’re the next printer in Rome, the next MFA in Rome.'”
Some students in Rome are naturally inspired by their cultural surroundings, as the city is dotted and built with amazing art and history.
“[Rome] it can deeply shock young artists, it has that effect, and I think part of it is just seeing the old and the new, the ancient and the contemporary, just bumping into each other,” Shetabi said.
Suchan was inspired by something as trivial as her morning commute to classes while in Rome. She usually traveled an hour to class via the walking path along the Tiber River.
“That time let me reflect on my ideals and my painting, I didn’t call anyone when I was there because of the time difference, so it was like a very interpersonal experience,” Suchan said. “I felt successful in sticking to my goals of working and being present in Rome, going to all the museums and just trying to take in what Rome has to offer artistically.”
As a painter, Suchan was also excited to utilize art supplies in Rome, as the pigments in Italian paint are more lush.
She has eight different pieces on display in the Roma collection.
“Adjusting to life abroad would have been much more difficult and lonely if I didn’t have those people there with me,” Suchan said. “I don’t think conversations like ours would have happened there and I would definitely encourage people to want to check [the exhibit] out.”