Graduate Experience, 2019

KOSUKE KAWAHARA

MFA — Painting & drawing

Together with Prof. Diana Gisolfi and Prof. Joe Kopta we visited churches and museums all over Venice, which were absolutely outstanding. Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese, Carpaccio… We saw countless of these masters’ works.
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In summer 2019 I experienced an extraordinary period in my life through the Pratt in Venice program. I am deeply grateful to Prof. Diana Gisolfi, the program director, for offering me a scholarship award and an assistantship award. If not for these awards, I would not have been able to experience this unique opportunity, which—even after coming back to New York—I still believe to have been a once in a lifetime experience.

While in Venice I was enrolled in the course Materials and Techniques of Venetian Art, taught by Prof. Diana Gisolfi. Together with Diana and Prof. Joseph Kopta we visited churches and museums all over Venice, which were absolutely outstanding. Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese, Carpaccio… We saw countless of these masters’ works. On-site study helped exceedingly in understanding Venetian art, especially for students like myself who grew up in Japan, where the culture is completely different. Direct experience of the masters’ paintings and architectural works absorbed me entirely and supported me in understanding complex ideas more deeply. Additionally, Diana and Joe gave us expert lectures for each site. I would not have felt the significance of those artists in the same way had there not been such experts coming along with us.

With Prof. Angela Conant, I strengthened my printmaking practice. We worked at Scuola Grafica—where Angela formerly studied printmaking—and wonderful facilities are set up. Angela fully understands Scuola’s environment, so much so that she successfully organized experimental course work, in which we explored a variety of printing techniques. Additionally, Alessia De Bortoli, a studio technician, absolutely supported our practice (she also smiles all the time–that was another form of support!). Surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Venice, I could cultivate my inspiration through the elegance of Venetian culture as well as its dark side. Venice is such a special place for everyone, which holds intense brilliance; that being said, the same amount of darkness exists there. As an artist, this contrast became a precious resource for my artistic practice. Historical narratives I heard from Diana, Joe, and Michael inspired me many times. Along with the techniques I learned through Angela’s class; finally, I could develop my printmaking practice into a way I had never expected before. I still remember we commuted to studios and churches every day by vaporetto (“vaporetto” means “boat” in Italian), which changes the way I address my production. Go with the flow–no the other place can exceeds the fluidity that Venice possesses.

Prof. Michael Brennan, whom I worked for, demonstrated his sophisticated pedagogy through his painting class. Throughout the program, I could observe how he stimulates students’ interests and motivations. This first-time experience as a teaching assistant was significant in my graduate study because I have a keen interest pursuing art education in my post-graduate life. Michael encouraged students to work naturally, letting everyone grow at their own pace. I felt that he made his students plow their fields to refine the foundation of their practice in this select setting. One of the assignments Michael provided was sampling color from the landscape of Venice. Eventually, all of our samples were installed on one wall—I enjoyed how everyone differently perceived Venice’s unique scenes throughout their stay.

On the weekend (sometimes weekdays), we visited several places outside of Venice, including Padua, Ravenna, and Bassano del Grappa. While spending sensational times in Venice, these short trips outside the lagoon refreshed us. In Padua, we visited the Scrovegni Chapel where Giotto decorated its nave with his frescoes. We had a special tour guided by the architect, Antonio Stevan. Regular visitors are only allowed to stay 15 minutes in this precious proto renaissance heritage. However, because of Diana’s connection to Antonio, we had a one-hour-long observation of Giotto’s best work. This church became my thesis topic for Diana’s class, and through my research, I obtained further understanding of the later period of renaissance art.

Regarding the fact that the program reached its 35th anniversary this year, I am full of pure admiration for Diana’s passion for sharing and educating about Venetian art. I was lucky enough to be blessed with people in Venice, including Diana–at the head of the list—and all faculties, guest lecturers, and stuffs, as well as beautiful peers. I almost felt like I’d been spending time with my family by the end of our stay. Now, I sometimes run into them on the Pratt campus in New York and feel a very close intimacy. This special summer is already gone now, yet I always will remember it as one of the most passionate and heart-warming moments.

Undergraduate Experience, 2019

ELEANOR MCGUIRK

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT — BFA DRAWING

Whether in class or out and about in Venice—in the mysterious, detail-rich maze that is the city—I made memories I hold very dear.
Eleanor with PIV ‘19 students Donna Nadeem and Huier Zhao.

Eleanor with PIV ‘19 students Donna Nadeem and Huier Zhao.

As an artist, art historian, or simply a citizen of the world, I highly encourage you to go abroad and see more of the world in which you live. We are absorbed in our bubbles and leaving them can be inspiring and uncomfortable in the best of ways. Pratt in Venice is a highly immersive program. The amount of art and history I was exposed to was endless.


I took two classes while in Venice: Prof. Joe Kopta’s Art History of Venice and Prof. Angela Conant’s Printmaking and Drawing in Venice course. Joe’s class was highly in depth. I learned vastly more than I had in any previous Art History course I had taken prior. As any student will say who was privileged enough to participate in the Pratt in Venice program, seeing the artwork and architecture in person was irreplaceable. Venice’s history is uniquely diverse, both socially and artistically. What I saw in Joe’s class were some of the oldest and most beautiful artworks, interiors, and buildings I’ve ever laid eyes on. Angela’s printmaking course was so enjoyable. Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia was a gorgeous and extremely well-equipped facility. The school’s assistant, Alessia De Bortoli, was so lovely, helpful, and patient with us. Despite the program being a summer semester, we were able to learn six different printmaking techniques. Printmaking in Venice was wonderful… talk about being in an inspirational place!


Living in a gorgeous country like Italy with other Pratt students helps to develop strong connections that will last well into the future. Whether in class or out and about in Venice—in the mysterious, detail-rich maze that is the city—I made memories I hold very dear. I was lucky enough to be a part of Pratt in Venice 2019 and I hope you make the decision to be a part of Pratt in Venice 2020! A presto!