Learning Art in Rome




I’ve really enjoyed learning about art and art history in Rome. The art scene here is, of course, rich and dynamic. I’ve really appreciated learning how to approach art in museums and how to engage with it as social commentary and in conversation with so many parts of our social and historical world.

The last art class I’ve taken was in middle school. 6th grade I believe. I remember learning about Van Gogh and Frida Khalo. I remember learning about shading and perspective drawing. I remember practising in different mediums and finding pottery to be my personal favorite. But it’s all a memory. I don’t remember exactly how to do any of those artistic means anymore. So, being here in Rome and taking two art classes in the eternal city has been a really cool and insightful experience.

I’ve learned so much about actually doing art in my sketchbook class. We’ve been all over the city of Rome, practising with pencil, charcoal, and ink. Next week our final project is due, in which, we have to create a piece inspired by five animals in Rome. I have a really cool concept to incorporate statues of animals here in Rome and also, astrology constellations. I’m really excited to show all that I’ve learned during my time here.

I’ve learned about the history of art and how to talk about it in my Art of Rome class. A couple of weeks ago we went to the Galleria Borghese and all choose single pieces to write methodology assignments on. I chose Allegoria della scoperta dell’America (Allegory of America’s Discovery) by Jacopo Zucchi who was born in Florence in 1542 and died in Rome in 1595/1596. (I would love to insert a picture here but I’m not sure if I’m legally allowed to do that.) The piece is thought to have been created some time in 1585.

I found reflecting on this piece a little difficult. In the end though, I came to the conclusion that Allegoria della scoperta dell’America seems to hint at the dynamics between the people who founded, created, and built America compared to who the land was actually meant for. The arbitrary number of faded figures in the distance and the darker skinned figures depicted show striking contrast to the distinct, bold, relaxed, “privileged” figures on the foreground rock who admire seashells, jewels, and other objects of the land. The rhythm and color of the composition attempt to grapple with the diversity America prides itself with, and yet, the way the artist has divided the painting with lines and contours attempts to grapple with the truth about social status and race relations in “(a)merica.”

The point of the methodology assignment was to come to a provocative conclusion that anyone could argue. It was really cool to study the painting’s horizontal and psychic lines, geometry, contours, color, rhythm, composition, and light. I’m not sure how well circulated the painting and the artist Jacopo Zucchi is but I really appreciated this piece. I’m continually grateful to have had this experience. I definitely value art in a different way than before.