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Students admire the photographic works by Spencer Sisselman at the student exhibition on April 15th.


by Blending Staff Photo by Zahara Pruitt

April 15th marked the advanced-level, final exhibition that hosted the works of 2-year career students Margherita Innocenti (Visual Communication) and Spencer Sisselman (Digital Photography). Innocenti’s typography-based project focused on the controversy and inadequate public knowledge surrounding Italy’s recently approved Cirinnà law that seeks to provide a legal framework for same-sex unions. Sisselman’s photographic works also provided a commentary on social issues through the ephemeral values of materialism evident in how individuals perceive themselves and portray their public identities. The exhibition also included a presentation of a book project on the Florentine fashion company, Nannini, by Chau Minh from the 1-year publishing program.



by Deborah Galasso, Leanora Karnath, and Morgan O’Reilly Photo by Anastassia Sciaraffia

The From Kandinsky to Pollock exhibition in Palazzo Strozzi brought masterpieces of the Guggenheim in New York and Venice. The great works of the US collection of European and American artists active at the turn of the 20s and 60s. FUA students Leanora Karnath and Morgan O’Reilly teamed up with Deborah Galasso, a Florentine university student, to visit the exhibition and share their thoughts.

Upon entering the exhibition, we were struck by the fluid yet chaotic shapes of Kandinsky’s “Dominant Curve” (Courbe dominante). To explore how abstract art evokes an unprecedented, highly personal meaning within each viewer, we recorded our individual responses to the piece. Morgan: At first glance, the sharp movement of Kandinsky’s organic shapes as they swoop through and

beyond the canvas creates a chaotic and somewhat overwhelming atmosphere; yet as I continue to gaze, I see free, vibrant figures transcend past the dull, darker background in a rejoicing, almost cathartic surge of elation and creativity. It is interesting how, in the loom of war and uncertainty, where many artists and authors question humanity, Kandinsky decided to celebrate it with optimism;

thus capturing the hope and everlasting vibrancy of the human condition. Lea: I felt wild energy from the amount of shapes clustered together. The different colors pushed my eyes to explore each section separately before looking at it as a single unit. I was most drawn to the circles because they create a sense of playfulness and youthfulness. As I looked longer, my emotions changed to tranquility created by the fluidity of curved lines that overlap one another. I viewed the piece as a way to demonstrate that calmness can always be found in situations that may appear chaotic at first. Deborah: In my opinion, the Kandinsky abstraction is expressed very well. The very colorful paintings stand out to the eyes of visitors. Even the arrangement of how the abstract paintings lead to later avant-garde works demonstrates how art can evolve quickly through time. The expression of these great artists has reached us thanks to Peggy, the eccentric collector, which has allowed us to learn about contemporary art.


by Ryan Caulfield Photo by the author

Cinema Odeon, located just across from Palazzo Strozzi, was a very busy movie theater from April 5th through 10th. Odeon, along with Cinema Stensen, hosted the 7th edition of Middle East Now, a festival celebrating the Middle East through short and feature length cinema, documentary, contemporary art, music, food, and special discussions. The festival had an impressive list of 44 films from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Bahrain, Algeria, and Morocco making this the only festival in Italy dedicated completely to promoting culture and the art of cinema from the Middle East and North Africa. Almost all the films were Italian premieres, 19 were short films and 25 feature length ranging from documentaries, 2

comedies, experimental, and dramas. On Sunday April 10th, the Palestine documentary film Speed Sisters premiered and it was certainly one of the more unique documentaries at the festival. Directed by Amber Fares, Speed Sisters follows the first ever all-women's racing team in the Middle East, specifically an all women team from Palestine, which made plenty heads turn in the racing industry and in the country doing circuits. Fares makes use of her access with the five women getting


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glimpses into the struggles and pressures of being a woman in an obviously male dominated sport. The West Bank itself creates pressures of its own with checkpoints and an Israeli force that is anything but tolerant. The ideology of the film does not rest upon these pressures, instead the film rallies around the broken stereotype of what a female racer is or has to be. Some of the best moments of the film is when the viewer is placed inside the cars during the circuits and see the passion and joy of the women’s faces while driving; it surely will have an impact on this generation of young women looking to professionally race. The film’s music, comprised of small indie rock bands, adds to the energy of the 78-minute run time making it feel like a speedy 30 minute documentary. If Speed Sisters can inspire and cultivate acceptance on the race track, maybe it can garner those values onto the world. Until then, these women will continue to burn rubber on the road.



by Saige Sheets Photos by the author

There is this sense of peace that comes with the chance to not spend the holidays alone. To enjoy home cooked meals and family time. This Easter I was invited to spend it with my friend Elisabetta and her family.

A little back-story… Betta and I first met at my high school in painting class. She was an exchange student coming to Missouri. Now, almost four years later it is my turn to study abroad in her home country. Not only is it amazing to see her again, but she is also going to the local Italian university in Florence and I study at Florence University of the Arts! She lives in San Vito Cadore, which is a two-hour drive north from Venice. There are less than 2,000 inhabitants but it

was very busy with tourists because of the ski season. Once we arrived in San Vito, we walked to Betta’s home, where we were greeted by her poodle Freud. I was welcomed with arms wide and smiles from her mother Alba Maria and her younger sister Lucia. In northern Italy, it is more traditional to eat earlier lunches and dinner than the later times of Florence. At Betta’s home, her mom would start cooking a few hours earlier and Lucia would help when

coming home from school. By the time her father would be home, dinner would be ready. Dinners were vegetarian for Betta. As a meat lover, I was surprised by how much I loved what was prepared. We tried different kinds of breads, risotto alle zucchine, and risotto al radicchio rosso. Due to Betta having such a huge family, meals are usually multi-course. Fabio preferred wine; the young adults liked apple or fruit juice and water. Betta treated me to the best café in town and I 3

got to try Italian hot chocolate thickened with flour, almost like a pudding, and apple strudel. Alba then took us to see the other grandparents. Betta’s grandpa Arcangelo designed and built their house, and Betta’s uncle also had his wood work in the living room. Grandma Severina wore big glasses and an apron, and knitted away from a couch decorated with a vine design. Betta introduced me since I did not speak enough Italian. Her grandmother insisted that we sit down to rest and wanted to know if we were hungry, as she always does with each guest. Betta’s grandfather sat at the table


and chatted with his granddaughter. One afternoon I helped Betta make gnocchi. It is pasta that is made from boiled potatoes, then mashed and kneaded with egg and flour. We would roll it to a long rope and cut into squares. Betta’s family made them very soft and served them with tomato sauce. They also added some poppy seeds on top to add another flavor. On Easter Sunday some of the family members and I went to mass, and by the time we came back our holiday meal was ready. The main dish was polenta and spezzatino beef stew. On the side

was a meatloaf of sausage, potatoes, and shredded carrots. For drinks was a new bottle of semi-sweet red wine and apple juice. Before heading upstairs to Betta’s cousin’s apartment for dessert, we took a 10-minute break to relax. Betta’s aunt had made a giant tiramisù while Betta had made a yellow cake with orange zest, cream, hard chocolate icing, and peaches for decoration. Nothing beats having home-cooked meals and celebrating holidays with friends. From the time spent with the Italian family I learned how important food is and how it unites people.


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by Leanora Karnath and Morgan O’Reilly Photo by the author

On Wednesday, April 13th, Vetulio Bondi, owner of gelateria I Gelati del Bondi, provided insight into his experience with the Florentine delicacy during the Florence Gelato Festival. As the director of the event and president of the Florence Gelato Association, Bondi eagerly shared his passion and the origins of his shop. As a child, he admired the creations of Renato Masselli, one of the oldest gelato makers in Florence. This interest led to the opening of I Gelati del Bondi in 1982. Since then, trends in the gelato market as well as evolving forms of preparation have transformed gelato from a sweet and cold treat into the warmer, creamier, less sweet gelato we know today. It originated in Florence and was invented supposedly by the Florentine architect Bernardo Buontalenti. Dessert creativity is a longstanding tradition in Tuscany, considering recipes such as the modern-day zuccotto. Its inventor, Ruggeri, originally called it l’elmo di Caterina for Caterina II de’Medici who brought the dessert with her when she married into the French court. In order to provide an authentic, unique experience here in Florence, Bondi and other members of the Florence Gelato Association gather to demonstrate the “real way” to make gelato. Their collaboration also results in the creation of new exotic flavors. He attributed the quality of his gelato to fresh and seasonal produce. He has established relationships with farmers for his ingredients such as hazelnuts and pistachios to ensure his gelato is high quality. He also chooses milk that is at the peak of freshness and prefers to create flavors that align with the season to further

guarantee the quality of his product. In recent years, Bondi has taught a gelato making class at Apicius. He looks forward to communicating his passion with the public at the Florence Gelato Festival on April 21-25. He will open a new shop early May in Piazza de' Pitti. I Gelati del Bondi Via Nazionale, 61 - Firenze



by Sophia Hei Man Wong Photos by the author

It’s snowing in Florence during the springtime? If you go to Parco delle Cascine (the Cascine Park), you can walk on the white and fluffy “snow” and see the silky fibres flying in the sky falling from the trees. This park is a good spot to stay away from tourists and busy traffic in Florence where we can breath fresh air and enjoy incredible vast green area. Sitting on the right side of the Arno river, the Cascine Park is the largest public park in Florence. It spreads over 160 hectares – compared to 115 hectares of the Airport of Florence, the park is huge given the small size of the city! After a 15-minute walk from the Santa Maria Novella train station, you can arrive at the entrance of Cascine Park, Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Other than cottonwoods, the vast green space is filled with centuries-old trees like oak, pine, elm and maple, about

20,000 trees of 60 different species in total. Unlike the bustling city center, here we can find Italian families with children and dogs having picnics and sunbathing in the fields; locals jogging, cycling and roller skating; youngsters playing soccer, throwing frisbees, playing basketball, etc. There is also an openair public swimming pool making it a pleasant spot in summer. Every Tuesday morning, there is also an open market selling fresh fruits, clothes and household goods.

Making Cascine Park even more enchanting is the nearly five centuries of historical stories behind it. It was built in 1563 as a farming and hunting lodge for the Medici family. In the 18th century, the park was enriched with buildings by the architect Giuseppe Manetti. To the west of the park we can find a Roman-style amphitheatre, which was built in the seventies and is used today for dance performances and concerts in the summer. Another curious building is the pyramid of Cascine which is an 5

underground warehouse for keeping ice in the 18th century. The Cascine Park is a place not to be missed for cyclists, runners, adventurers who like historical buildings or even for those who simply want to have a break and relax. You can take the tram that leaves from the Santa Maria Novella train station and arrive within five minutes to the park. It is simple as you can use the same tickets that are valid for the ATAF city bus. You can also go to the park from the train station on foot within 15 minutes.



by Willow Neely Photo courtesy of Gaia Poli

Gaia Poli is the manager of the FLY, the FUA retail store and coordinates all of the experiential students who are involved in store projects. FLY stands for Fashion Loves You and it is the fashion laboratory of FUA’s fashion department that sells vintage, consignment, and emerging designer apparel.



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All proceeds go towards FUA fashion scholarships, so the store is a very important aspect to Gaia’s job and the students. I wanted to interview Gaia because two of my roommates regularly collaborate with her and they have always spoken very highly of her. I had first met her during the spring semester orientation and immediately knew she had great fashion sense and, as a Florentine local, a passion for city’s culture. WN: At what age did you discover fashion and why? GP: I have been exposed to fashion since a young age because my family was working in the jewelry industry. WN: Where do you get your creative inspiration?  GP: Art, street style, magazines, and geometry.  WN: How has running the FLY boutique and working at FUA influenced you as a person? 

GP: FLY and FUA are very fashion-forward and creative environments, so I find inspiration daily. At FLY, we collaborate with emerging designers, which helps me to gain a fresher perspective with each and every collaboration. WN: How does living in Florence shape your personal fashion choices? GP: Florence is the cradle of Renaissance art and style, so the historical perspective we live in is a constant source of inspiration. However Florentines also have a very interesting fashion attitude, so the inspiration continues... Interviewing Gaia was a stimulating experience and I can confirm that my previous perceptions about her were reaffirmed. The passion Gaia has for her students, fashion, FUA, and life in general are inspiring and I hope to take advantage of my career as much as she has.


SCULPTING FLORENCE: MONUMENTAL THRESHOLDS For this issue’s Faces & Places section, Travel Writing students write about monuments as living boundaries in the areas of Florence that border between green landscapes and urban cityscapes. Four spots, four examples of sculptural art, and four ways to think about how they interact with human thought are the result of this creative descent into Florentine spaces.


Photo by the author

In his journey around Italy, yearning to experience the culture of his heritage and family roots, he felt the most content at the Boboli Gardens. Walking throughout the acres of the entire garden, he came across a statue of what he believes depicts the ideal profile of an Italian man. A strong chin, rounded eyes, and a bit of a big nose. All attributes he felt he has, passed down each generation in his family. Yet the face was broken everywhere with cracks, something you could not see in the young man’s face. The cracks, he felt, represents the pain and sadness a man has endured yet the strong facial expression of pride and honor is kept. He felt it was a representation of a man who can be resolute and sensitive all at the same time. To the right of the statue was the city, the place where his ancestors before him had worked to make enough to provide shelter and food on the table for their children. The place where many traditions and distinct culture, that are still celebrated today, had been created. As he stared into the abyss he felt nostalgic and grateful to be a descendant from such a beautiful country. 7


Photos by Anastassia Sciaraffia

by Hannah Cohen

It’s the feeling described as defeat: fighting against the weight of gravity to hold your head up: exhaustion-like liquid-steel filling the back of your neck through your shoulders and down the sides of your torso, creating a stiffened, numb, detachment to breath. I feel like I’m intruding on something I shouldn’t be seeing. The look on his face is that of a parent when you catch them fighting. Faces traced with acknowledgment of the “conversation” being important but isn’t something they’re proud of. As his first action with the knowledge that he is a son of Zeus, Perseus might come across in stature as confident, especially standing on top of his victim’s body. With his furrowed brow and downturned eyes, I can’t help but imagine Perseus as a little boy presenting his mother with a small animal he meant to play with but unaware of his own strength, accidently hurt. Cellini certainly picked an interesting positioning of Medusa’s head. While he could have let Perseus hold her lower on his side or hide her turn her head away from spectators. We are instead petrified by the eyes of Medusa just as legend says. It’s midnight. I’ve come from Piazzale Michelangelo. I’ve spent the last two hours watching the sun disintegrate over the horizon while painting the city, just as thousands of artists have been doing to Firenze for centuries. This view of the entire city: buildings, people, streets, light and dark. The sun pours its purple and rose-colored smile over the ground and the emerald colored grass spills over the hills before the Arno and seamlessly melts into the greenish tint of the river. I’ve spent some of my days looking for nature in the city center and this “park of people” now has a 400-yearold “evergreen”- if you will. Perseus and Medusa, joint from bronze appear to have grown from the cobblestone.


by Leanora Karnath Photos by Anastassia Sciaraffia

The twelve statues in the Giardino delle Rose stand and look out at the view, inviting you to do the same. Although they are surrounded by blooming flowers and located further away from the Duomo, their faces show respect to the different atmosphere that exists below their gazes. The statues enjoy the peace and quiet that blankets the area. People chatter but many don’t utter a word, at least for a few seconds, as they stare out above Florence. Some are buried in their books while others walk through and admire the greenery. As the sun begins to dip into the horizon, the soft hum of a man and his guitar floats in the air. Despite their rigidness, the statues don’t seem out of place among plants that move fluidly with the wind. Their 8

calm stances reflect the nature of the garden. They bid you farewell when the garden closes; they, too, need their rest. As you exit the garden and cross the Arno River, the sky becomes more illuminated. Walking further you encounter the Duomo who rightly behaves as a guardian for the city. His age has only brought him more wisdom. He has seen it all from crying babies spilling gelatos over their faces during the day to wobbly young adults going to their next destination in the middle of the night. He never sleeps, but he doesn’t need to. Rather, he stays energized by those that stand mesmerized in front of him.


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PISTOLETTO’S DIETROFRONT IN PORTA ROMANA She lured me out the gate that leads to Rome - I crossed the line - I waited for the walls to crumble down on top of me. I expected the iron doors to slam shut, lock and bolt, shunning me from the city. I crossed the line few dare to by foot - I stepped outside the city walls.No selfie-stick sellers, post card stands or tour groups flooded the vicinity. I was accompanied only with a handful of locals waiting by the bus stop, venturing further away from the Renaissance city. The cobblestones changed, having less of a tourist-tread and more rustic, authentic touch. But she really caught my eye, she tempted me out of the garden of Eden and across to the other side of the gate. She elegantly balanced another woman on top her stone head, her piercing gaze looked away from Florence - I liked that. It felt colder, dirty and ill-groomed. The street cleaners don’t bother to sparkle and shine the streets out this far - who would give a care? The buildings changed from Renaissance to block, carbon copies of one another. The streets opened up wider paved with black cement laid by machines versus the historic city center of hand laid cobblestones. She looked down at me, pleasantly surprised to see I had left the city center to come to her. She looked toward Rome - her back to the Florentine city of art and carrying modernity on top her head. Her bi-directional position made me think, what two directions do I face? Her

by Alexandra Lawrence Photo by Daniela Anselmo

hand gathered her skirt as if she was running away, I wanted to go with her. Her eyes focused, mouth pressed tight, I didn’t ask where she was going, but I knew by her determination. She looked at me one last time as if pleading me to follow her. I looked behind me at the arch, the Renaissance buildings and cobblestones. I didn’t desire to enter through those gates again - I could breathe outside the city walls. She had a figured balanced on her head, causing headache - I felt no pressure in my head - out here only freedom. I gave her a last look and picked myself up, to travel back to Rome.




by Lauren Fromin Photos courtesy of A. Ricciardi

We caught up with Visual Communications Career Program Alumnae Amanda Ricciardi, who has continued her impressive visual design work from abroad, building her own freelance company. LF: What was your goal when enrolling in DIVA's Visual Communications Career program? AR: When applying to the program my goal was to ultimately grow in my creative skill set in video and graphic design in order to expand the services I planned on offering as a professional. Having a wide variety of skills (in addition to my BFA in photography) is something that has always been important to me. Although photography was my first love, I prefer working with a variety of creative fields. I saw the pursuit of this program as the perfect opportunity to obtain this goal. LF: What are you working on now? AR: Shortly after graduating from FUA I worked on branding a business enterprise in North Cyprus. After this job was completed I moved to Malmö, Sweden where I am currently freelancing in both photography and graphic design. The current project I am working on is branding an online vintage clothing store. LF: How did FUA's DIVA Career Program prepare you for what you are doing now? AR: FUA gave me working knowledge of what it’s like to be a creative professional. Through the intensive program, I was able to quickly gain these skills and subsequently apply them


in a professional working environment. This was the best thing about FUA’s program. Having had this work experience prior to looking for jobs gave me the confidence I was lacking after previously graduating with a bachelor's degree. I was able to dive into the working world with a smooth, anxiety-free transition. LF: What are the most valuable skills you acquired through the Visual Communications Career program? AR: The most valuable skill I acquired was definitely the ability to create a brand. This skill has gotten me the most work. There are so many small businesses out there that have no clue about proper branding. Being able to help small businesses grow is something really rewarding for me, so this skill has been especially important when it comes to working with what I am passionate about. LF: Tell us about your time in Italy, what were some of your favorite experiences? AR: Simply walking to and from class everyday was my favorite part about living in Florence. This gave me an opportunity to personally know this beautiful city, breathing in its air, noticing the details of a building as I passed by, observing the people who reside there. There is so much to notice and take in. The discoveries are infinite. Florence truly is an inspiring city.


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LF: What advice do you have for future FUA students? AR: Work hard. I know it’s easy to get swept up in the study abroad experience and fall into the routine of wanting to travel or go out rather than studying or working. My advice would be to use the city as an inspiration to work hard and be innovative and creative with what you do. If you allow the city to be that place for you, you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome of your work.

*DIVA is the Digital Imaging and Visual Arts division of Florence University of the Arts

LF: What was your favorite project during the program? AR: My favorite project was definitely the Genius Loci videos we created for the Galileo conference hosted at FUA. Although this necessarily wasn’t my best work coming out of the program, it was my favorite to work on. This project gave us the opportunity to get to know Florence in a more intimate way while allowing us to be as creative as we wanted to be.

Check out Amanda's work at



by FUA PR Strategies students


Photos by Anastassia Sciaraffia

by Meghan McCarthy, Fouad Boutros, Jackie Grose, Arya Asadi, Jordana Bischoff Le Murate Caffè Letterario may be tucked away behind the walls of a historic complex but its unique style and atmosphere are certainly a local standouts. The place, first a women’s monastery and then a prison, is now a local hub where locals and visitors alike can enjoy fresh food and drinks and a wide range of events for every palate. Its beautiful open-air courtyard and eclectic dining areas are the perfect place to study for your next exam or meet friends for a sunny afternoon. Or for a night out, stop by a poetry reading or live music concert. Whatever your mood may be, Le Murate is a great local spot to relax this spring.


Le Murate Caffè Letterario Piazza delle Murate, Firenze - Tel. +39 055 2346872 -

by Meghan Carroll, Annie Ruddy, Sydney Seligman April showers bring May flowers. Come and check out Florence’s Rose Garden located below Piazzale Michelangelo, on Viale Giuseppe Poggi. The garden is a place where a collection of roses, lemons, and other plants are grown in the green zone of the piazzale. The garden is open from 8a.m. to 8p.m. with free entrance all year round. May however is the perfect time to visit this extraordinary garden as the roses are in full bloom. This garden is unique to others among Florence because of the vast amount of varieties of roses, totaling over 400 different species. Since the Rose Garden of Florence can be appreciated in its full extent in May, FUA students who are studying here now should definitely take advantage before the semester ends!




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Anno 6 - Numero 3 - Maggio 2016

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BLENDING Newsletter May 2016  


BLENDING Newsletter May 2016