Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Florentine School

I have officially started classes. I had three on Tuesday, and they were boring (reading syllabi), but good. My first class was printmaking, and since I'm the only one in the class, the professor and I just talked about what I would be doing all semester. She seems to think I'll be doing only about 4 plates, so I guess I'll have to make them well, since I won't have a bulk of finished work to hide behind. The printshop was small and cluttered, but nice, and I can't wait to call it my home. One thing my professor kept coming back to (and she's absolutely correct), is that my work to date lacks a certain unity of theme. My images are all over the place. So I have to pick something thematic to draw upon this semester and create a body of work to present in the end.

Then I had Italian class, which seems to be exactly what I wanted: a crash course in practical Italian. It's supposed to be taught in Italian, and so the instructor uses English only when we ask, and then only for clarification. So hopefully I'll be communicatively proficient by the end of the semester. The most difficult part of the class is the people. They are all freshmen from the same college, and they were friends prior to the semester, and they're staying a full year, so they've bonded. They were very reluctant to engage in conversation with me, and it was just an awkward experience. I hope they warm up to me a bit, otherwise, it'll be a weird class.

And finally, I had my art history class. Except it was more of a theoretical art class, where we talk about semiotics, philosophy, and the theory of art. It looks like it's going to be a really interesting, inter-disciplinary class. We spent the whole class period defining art and talking about how past cultures defined it and how different disciplines, such as anthropology or historians or artists, would define it. And then we looked at a bunch of famous pieces and tried to fit them to our class-imposed definitions of art. For some, the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the Mona Lisa failed to be classified as art, which shocked a lot of my classmates, since "clearly, that is art." And others failed to classify Duchamp as an artist or Picasso's cubism as art. Others had such a broad definition that even the desks and windows and floor classified as art. It was a great discussion, and we had a couple of heated participants that made for a lively debate.

My two classes on Wednesday were cooking and digital photography. In cooking class, we went to the open market and learned about fresh produce, meat, and what's in season. We also learned proper market etiquette, such as not touching the food yourself, rather having the vendor handle the goods. Also, always buy things from Italians, because immigrants have set up shop and prey on unsuspecting tourists by selling lower quality foods. Buy meat and seafood with the head and innards still attached, because it guarantees freshness, since the guts and eyeballs spoil within a day and cannot be kept sitting out. We also learned about fresh pasta (as opposed to dried) and how to select good pasta. We were also encouraged to try tripe, and were shown the various parts of the cow stomach that make this delicacy. It was a very informative lesson, and I look forward to cooking all the recipes my professor alluded to.

And finally, I had my digital photography class. We did a lot of preliminary set up and the professor taught us how to format our camera. We then watched the first part of a 6-episode BBC mini series on photography that went through the history of cameras and photography and was very interesting. I am excited for all of my classes and can't wait to get into the full swing of things.

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