Italy Illuminated

UVA in Italy: Photography and Italian Art History

May 30, 2019 – June 19, 2019

Photographs made in Rome, Castiglion Fiorentino, Siena, Arezzo, Sansepolcro, Florence, and Venice

What does it mean to illuminate something? Illuminate can mean to light up, to decorate with metallic or colored designs, or to clarify or explain a matter. To me, all three meanings apply to my study abroad experience in Italy. For one, in the literal sense, much of the historic artwork I saw in Italy was illuminated either by gold leaf, natural lighting, or the meaningful and technically refined utilization of light. In truth, both the art history and photography aspects of the trip emphasized and reiterated the importance of light, to the point where it was almost comical; however, light genuinely is that significant for the creation and study of art. I am forced to recall Plato’s observation, explained in the Republic, that a human being with the gift of sight is unable to use his vision in the dark; indeed, light is the intermediary that enables one to engage and appreciate the visual beauty of the world. In this way, through a variety of sensations and primarily by sight, I was able to delve into Rome, Tuscany, and Venice, and come to know what it is about Italy that makes it so beloved by individuals throughout the world. In my memory, Italy is bright and exquisite, not only because it was always sunny, but because amidst working and hustling around Italy, there still was a levity and lightness in the act of experiencing a new culture, creating great friends (including professors), and focusing on art in all of its many forms.