director's report

Director's Report, 2012

Diana Gisolfi, Director

Pratt in Venice 2012 was a highly productive year with lots of student collaboration and many memorable occasions. Nineteen participants included upperclassmen and graduate students from Art History, Fine Arts, Interior Design, and Architecture.  A student from the University of Delaware and two students from Pratt at Munsen-Williams-Proctor (one on her way to Pratt, the other moving on to Maryland) joined the group. Alumnus Joe Kopta (PiV '07, BFA/MS '10) joined as chief assistant and Venice alumnus Andrew Kurczak (PiV '11) continued as communicator extraordinaire. Students Kelly Davis, Regina Dubin, Collin Hewitt and Hannah West served as course assistants.


Pratt in Venice 2012 on Palladio's Bridge, Bassano del Grappa (photo: Joseph Kopta).


Dorothy Shepard, with Joe and colleagues Jennifer and Chris, led the trip to Torcello and the visit to San Marco. All faculty and staff contributed in group visits to the Accademia and the Doges Palace led by Diana. Visiting lecturer Tracy Cooper (Temple University) shared her expertise on Palladio at San Giorgio Maggiore and the Redentore.  Materials and Techniques visits to the San Marco mosaic lab, the Orsoni factory, and wood conservation studio with Stefania Sartori were followed by a very special opportunity to mount the scaffold at the church of San Sebastiano in Venice to study, with the help of the conservators Lucia Tito and Egido Arlango, the great range of painting techniques employed by Veronese and his assistants. A special event in the art history class was the lecture by alumna Galia Halpern (MS/MSLIS '07) in the exhibition of early maps at the Marciana Library. The lecture to the whole group by expert Paolo Spezzani on paintings in Venice and Padua studied under X-ray, infrared and ultraviolet shed light on the group trip to Padua and prepared students to understand examples to be seen on the trip to Castelfranco, Maser and Bassano. In Padua, Antonio Stevan, conservation architect, again generously hosted our early morning extended visit to the Scrovegni Chapel with Giotto’s frescoes. At Bassano all enjoyed a delicious meal al fresco prepared by Luisa and Gigi with all fresh local ingredients before seeking perches from which to sketch, paint or etch the countryside.


Tracy Cooper (Temple University) lecturing on Palladio's architecture in the church of San Giorgio Maggiore (photo: Joseph Kopta)


Jennifer Melby’s printmaking students working long hours at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica and Chris Wright’s painters working at the Università Internazionale dell’Arte and on site produced a wonderful range of work, admired by all participants in the final critique before our “Last Supper” held at Gianni’s on the Zattere after the weekend celebration of the Festa del Redentore accompanied by ceremonies, church bells, boat races and fabulous fireworks.


Colin Hewitt (Painting course assistant) presents his work at the Final Critique (photo: Joseph Kopta).


Director's Report, 2011

Diana Gisolfi, Director

2011 was a special year for Pratt in Venice.  The group of participants comprised 21 students, balanced equally between graduate and undergraduate, including degree candidates in painting, printmaking, art history, library science, illustration, art direction, and various combined degrees.


Pratt in Venice 2011 on Palladio's bridge, Bassano del Grappa.


The printmaking studio at the Scuola di Grafica was active overtime with highly determined printmakers tirelessly guided by Jennifer Melby. Chris Wright and his painters labored outdoors and in the Universita` dell’Arte studio, producing a wide range of responses to the experience. Art history students tromped and floated around the city studying the visual arts in situ with Dimitri Hazzikostas, while in Materials and Techniques students were admitted, through the help of Diana Gisolfi’s Venetian associates, to conservation laboratories and sites to learn about ways of making and salvaging art. Visiting lecturers included Tracy Cooper on Palladio, Paolo Spezzani on non-destructive analysis of art works, Robert Morgan’s view of the Biennale, and Stefania Sartori on wood conservation.

In addition to our traditional visits to Padua and to Castelfranco/Maser/Bassano, including architect Antonio Stevan’s lecture at the Giotto Chapel and an outdoor feast at Bassano, there were two unique happenings. The publicity office at Pratt contacted the program to ask if CBS could film some of our students viewing the Biennale. As Hilary Thompson, our wonderfully organized on-site assistant, had already organized the visit to the Giardini part of the Biennale, we set up a visit to the Arsenale part, with CBS in tow. Some segment of the filming should appear on CBS Sunday Morning very soon! The other unique event was in relation to conservation of the church of San Sebastiano, decorated by Paolo Veronese. Materials and Techniques students visited the exhibition of the three ceiling canvases, just cleaned, at the Palazzo Grimani, and they later were able to mount the scaffold in the church with the superintendent of the project, Dr. Amalia Basso as guide, to see up close all the varied painting techniques used by Veronese and his helpers.

Our Pratt in Venice exhibition on campus October 17-22 in the Second Floor Gallery reflects the richness of the program in the range and high quality of work exhibited. The conservation research and on-site photographs shown in the display cases outside the gallery remain on view throughout the year.

Director's Report, 2009

Diana Gisolfi, Program Director

Pratt in Venice 2009 marked the 25th anniversary of our Program. Fittingly it was a stellar year. Twenty-four participants included nine graduate students, from Art History and also Fine Arts and Digital Arts. The undergraduates were majors in Fine Arts, Communication Design, many also completing minors in Art History, and majors in Art History. Graduate TCHADA alumna Gillian Sneed (MS '08) served as on-site assistant and supervised housing matters. She also organized and led a visit of all interested students to the Venice Biennale.

The climate cooperated, so Dimitri Hazzikostas’ Torcello trip started the program off beautifully. Greg Drasler, painting professor and Joe Stauber, printmaking professor, both in their second year with the program, worked wonderfully together and supported and pushed students well. The final crit, and the exhibition in October at Pratt, showed a great range of excellent work in both painting and printmaking/drawing.

Graduate assistants in the art history classes, Hilary Thompson and John Gribowich, undertook helping undergraduates in the intricacies of using the Marciana Library and the Quirini-Stampalia Library. And the nine students in Materials and Techniques came through with excellent research, with topics ranging from Venetian bricks, to early printed books and manuscripts, to meaning and technique in mosaics, to pigments and underdrawings in Bellini and Tintoretto, to sustaining Venice’s ecosystem.

We again enjoyed collaboration from local experts: Antonio Stevan at the Giotto chapel, Stefania Sartori in the wood sculpture conservation lab, Maestro Piero in the mosaic lab, Bernardo Molinas on frescoes, Paolo Spezzani on techniques for showing painting processes.

And we all enjoyed the spectacular fireworks on the Feast on the Redentore.

Pratt in Venice Program Celebrates Its 24th Year

Diana Gisolfi, Director

The Pratt in Venice summer program of 2008 enjoyed several novelties. The printmaking course, developed and taught for years by Clare Romano and John Ross, was turned over to Joe Stauber, now printmaking professor at Pratt and once a student of Romano. Romano and Ross met with Stauber in the  spring and the transition was seamless. Greg Drasler taught painting in Venice for the first time. This team received much praise from participants and will carry on in 2009.

The student participants included outside students, graduate students in the MFA and HA masters programs, undergraduates from various studio departments and a strong group of undergraduate BFAs in Art History.

Although it rained for the first few days and the Torcello trip was postponed twice, Dimitri  Hazzikostas finally had a fine day to introduce the group to Venetian history and early buildings with splendid mosaics at Torcello. Professor Fiorentin and Massimo Angeletti at the Università Internazionale dell’Arte provided their traditional hospitality and also the new convenience of  wireless internet (which worked most of the time) and two computers available to participants. Our in-house library at UIA received some additions, sadly due to a sale at our favorite bookstore, Libreria Sansovino, which was giving up its status as an art bookstore. The libraries at the Cini Foundation, the Marciana (up and running after renovations in 2007), and the Querini-Stampalia were kept busy by our students and the painting studios were fully occupied and open regularly on Saturday. Printmaking at the Scula Internazionale di Grafica took advantage of some full day sessions and the production was impressive.

In our traditional visit to Padua, Architetto Antonio Stevan was again our generous host and expert lecturer on the conservation of the Giotto Chapel. On the trip to the Villa Barbaro at Maser and Bassano Joe Stauber organized a relay race to wake the group up for drawing in plein air after the abundant pranzo and Greg Drasler conducted individual crits. Special lectures included Professor Botter on fresco conservation, Paolo Spezzani on infra-red imaging, X-rays and ultraviolet images in Venetian painting, and Robert Morgan on global art today. In addition to our visits to laboratories such as the mosaic studio in San Marco, Materials and Techniques had a private visit to exhibition concerning the restoration and to the top of the Clock Tower in San Marco, where the bronze Moors again ring the bell and the clockworks again function.