Video courtesy Adam Fung.
This story originally appeared in the fall 2019 issue of Fine Arts News.
Residency opportunities are an important aspect of any artist’s professional development to inspire creativity in new environments away from the pressures of day-to-day life. In summer 2019, students in the Studio Art MFA program and their professors got the special opportunity to participate in an inaugural artist-in-residency program in Italy, thanks to a generous TCU donor.
Graduate students Dario Bucheli, Sierra Forester and Hector Ramirez, along with professors Adam Fung and Cameron Schoepp, traveled to the Southern Tuscany region and stayed on a property in the Val d’Orcia, about 100 miles north of Rome. The residency took place just before the students started their third and final year in the graduate program.
“This residency time was purposefully unstructured, which is the reality for students post academic study,” says Fung. “It was an ideal time to have students reflect on their first two years in the MFA program and think ahead to their thesis exhibition.”
The MFA program places emphasis on critical thinking about the creative process and the student’s role as an artist. For the three-week residency, each artist worked largely independently, creating new pieces and conducting independent research.
“Although I was drawing, painting and taking photographs, my time in the residency was also very introspective,” says Bucheli. “I thought about my work as a whole and did a lot of research and writing. By the end, it was much easier for creative ideas to flow.”
Italy, with its rich history and notable art, was the perfect setting for the students to draw inspiration for their work. Genius loci, meaning spirit of a place, was a theme for the residency that Fung hoped would resonate with students.
“Genius loci is hard to capture or consider in our daily lives that are filled with distractions,” says Fung. “In Italy, we had the opportunity to walk through the countryside of Tuscany, touch the stone and brick of nearby towns and see paintings made there. It all made us feel so much more connected to the region.”
The group also traveled to Rome and Venice, visited art and Etruscan archaeological museums, and explored churches filled with historic art.
Bucheli and Ramirez agree that experiencing a new culture during the unstructured residency time impacted their approach to creating art.
“I went dumpster diving for ‘found’ objects to use as material. I researched old Italian films,” says Ramirez. “What inspired me was the culture and history. It has given me a new perspective about art making.”
Join the College of Fine Arts on TCU Gives Day, Nov. 13-14, to help future students, like Dario, Hector and Sierra, continue pursuing their passions.