J.E. Molly Seegers, Graduate Art History and Library Science Student; Art History Assistant 2014
Studying and living in Venice was sogni diventati realtà, truly a dream come true. I had never lived abroad before and could not wait to experience being immersed in a foreign culture. From the moment we arrived, we were constantly walking into churches, seeing paintings by Titian, analyzing architectural styles, and learning the local, insider advice on how to live like Venetians. The orientation we received in our first few days was an excellent introduction to the winding streets, infinite bridges, and spacious campi of Venice.
Most of our classes took place on site, learning directly from the object of our study. Having studied the Venetian Renaissance with Professor Gisolfi in the spring semester, it felt incredibly surreal to walk by buildings and paintings which I had just spent months studying. The first time I walked to take the vaporetto to class, St. Mark’s square was virtually empty except for the locals commuting to work. The early morning light flooded the square. For the first time since arriving in Venice I walked by the Porta della Carta, the ornate entrance to the Doge’s Palace, the former Venetian Republic’s seat of government, I started to well up with tears of joy. It dawned on me that the moment I had been dreaming of for years was finally happening. Since I did not study abroad during my undergraduate studies, I had always wanted to live and take classes in a foreign country. The Venice Program turned my dream into a reality.
The Materials and Techniques course provided us with unparalleled opportunities. During an extensive tour of the church of San Sebastiano led by the Head Conservator, we were able to examine the frescoes by Veronese under raking light. Professor Gisolfi led us on a complete tour of the Veronese exhibition in Verona to which she contributed. The Maestro of the conservation laboratory of the basilica of San Marco graciously lectured us on the techniques and step by step process of mosaic restoration. At the Orsoni Mosaic Factory, we were able to see a demonstration of glass making and color comparison testing for mosaic tesserae. After being exposed to the exquisite Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna, I unexpectedly fell in love with the medium of mosaic, and ventured deeper into its history by independently visiting Aquileia, the site of the largest contiguous Ancient Roman floor mosaic in the west. As a Library Science student, I loved doing research in the many gorgeous Venetian libraries. I spent many happy hours consuming the books in the libraries of the Cini Foundation, the Marciana, and the Querini Stampalia.
Being taught Printmaking by Jennifer Melby was the fulfillment of a long time wish. I had not taken a fine arts studio class in over 10 years and was understandably nervous about taking this course with actual art students. However, the calm environment of the printmaking studio and the atmosphere created by Jennifer immediately gave me confidence and inspired me to create work of which I am proud.
The Venice program also brought me closer to Pratt itself. As a graduate student, I had not had many interactions with undergraduates, and, because of my time in Venice, I made incredible undergraduate friends who have caused me to spend more time on campus. I will look back on my time in Venice with deep appreciation for the unparalleled academic experiences as well as the strong friendships I have brought back with me to Brooklyn.