Trinity in Rome: The Artistic Adventure of a Lifetime

When studying abroad in Rome, it is impossible to avoid art. Whether you visit a museum for class, explore a local church or basilica, or even stroll by street murals on the sidewalk, there is enough beautiful artwork to visit and study for well over a semester.
The Trinity in Rome program’s highly lauded art curriculum draws much from its impressive resources in the city, the basis for multiple classes each term. The Rome campus curriculum is structured around classes like Early Christian and Medieval Art, Art Conservation, Introduction to the Art of Rome, and Drawing from Masterpieces. Most of the classes in the Rome program include weekend trips to places such as Pompeii, Naples, Paestum, Ravenna, and other Italian cities with strong roots to the ancient world. With a doorway directly to all the art that Rome has to offer, students never run out of material for their studies.
The Ancient Art of Rome class traveled to the city of Pompeii to “examine villas which all boast different styles of wall paintings on them,” Claudia Varner ’18 explained. The class looked at preserved houses throughout Naples and Pompeii, both of which are full of preserved churches, shops, temples, as well as many other buildings from ancient times. “The best part about these well-preserved buildings is seeing the actual daily life of ancient people and how they decorated their houses and rooms. One style included columns painted on the walls as if they were three-dimensional as well as vibrant colors for the wall trims.” Varner ’18 said the Ancient Art class also visited The Stabian Baths, which are the oldest thermal baths in Pompeii, dating back to the 4th century BCE.
Along with the Ancient Art class, the Early Christian and Medieval Art class took a trip to Ravenna, Italy. There, they went into five different churches and three baptistries. Their main goal was to “explore the mosaics and other pieces of artwork that were created in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Most of these churches depicted the same exact scene, but in different approaches– and the architecture and artwork were often influenced by each other,” Rachel Hughes ’17 explained to the Tripod.
Until recently, the Art Conservation class met each week in a different spot around the city of Rome. A handful of times, they were lucky enough to have class even at sites closed to the public, such as on the Vatican property. At The Vatican Museums, they were granted access inside the research laboratories. In these labs, they learned about some of the analytical techniques used to conduct research on the artworks held in the Vatican prior to their restoration. The Vatican Museums are the sixth most visited art museums in the world, as they host not only 54 rooms of detailed masterpieces but also include the famed Sistine Chapel.
In the Introduction to the Art of Rome course, there are no outside trips, and the class only takes place in the boundaries of the city of Rome. This class focuses on the art of Rome from the Classical era to the Baroque era. It ties history and art together by using the most central Roman monuments, churches, and galleries as subjects, and explaining why they fit into certain artistic categories. It is an introductory art history class where the students engage in learning different techniques that artists use.
The course Drawing from Masterpieces is a little bit different from the others. Students in Drawing do not take a weekend trip; however, they visit museums, parks, churches, and piazzas each week to recreate artistic scenes with their own hands. With just pencils or ink pens, the students in the Drawing class have finished pieces of art which are directly influenced by the artwork in Rome, such as architecture, paintings, sculptures, and mosaic work.
Trinity’s Professor Guerra brought her class to one of the most famous cemeteries in Rome to show the class how artistic value can also be found in gravestone sculptures. Sarah Talcott ’17 captured a scene from the cemetery in drawing and then later created a collage from it. Portraits have also been common in this class, as Matt Lucas ’17 completed a Roman portrait for homework one week. Another assignment for this course was taking on the challenge of ink drawing, in which Griffin O’Rourke ’17 chose a Roman masterpiece of an equestrian statue for his inspiration. One last task for the Drawing class was to recreate a piece from Caravaggio, a 17th Century Italian Painter. Colleen Murdock ’17 chose a well-known piece “Madonna and Child with St. Anne,” while Luca Albisetti ’17 chose the famous “San Gerolamo”– they both carefully depicted these masterpieces with shading. Throughout this particular class, not only have the students been able to learn about the artists who once surrounded Rome, they were also able to grasp physical artistic techniques and develop their own pieces of artwork.
No matter where you visit in Rome, there will be a bit of artwork in every corner. It is wonderfully available to tourists, which makes the Trinity in Rome program that much more exciting. From learning the very basic art history lessons, to understanding how art is conserved over time, to even having the chance to express one’s own artistic abilities, this program has provided the opportunities for creative minds to take full advantage of what Rome has in store.

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