Final reviews were this afternoon. We met in the courtyard of the Piazza dell’Orologio at about noon and students set up their work. Our (invited) guests included Ross Altheimer (HGA, American Academy in Rome Fellow) and Andrea Ponsi (Architect, writer and artist, Florence); we also had many uninvited (but welcome) guests; casual passersby in the piazza, the lurking tourists, the local hairdressers, a group of burly workmen curious about all the sheets of paper. Students laid out their drawings and got set up; ready and prepared to hurl themselves over the drawings to protect them from rain and birds (“Grenade!”). At one point, I thought they were going to lie down in front of some work trucks to stop them from accidentally driving over the project.
The work and the discussion was great. Ross and Andrea are both currently exploring similar themes with their respective work and they brought pertinent, critical and creative, sage perspective (no pun intended) to the student drawings. We talked about how drawings communicate (or don’t), how they work (or don’t, or should, or shouldn’t, or must), what they mean, how they imbue meaning into space, and importantly, how all of this stuff translates to drawing as an active, participatory act about design and space and the life of the city – and how it helps us understand the spatial implications of the spaces around us. The students worked hard – and it showed. Thank you.
We wrapped up our last day in Rome by venturing to the San Giovanni neighborhood for the best Tiramisu in all of Rome (it was exceptionally good, so good in fact, that Nick and Juan went back for second helpings). Exhaustion brushed aside – at least momentarily now with a potent sugar rush – we lurched passed St. John the Lateran (“The Pope’s Church! Explore it with this iPad app!”), to Santa Maria Maggiore where students paid their respects to Bernini and then pressed on to Santa Maria Della Vittoria to see his “Ecstasy of Saint Theresa.” In the spirit of what we’ve come to know about Rome and it’s history, some of the students decided to head over to San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, to see where Borromini is buried. It would only be right.
“It’s the individual approach to their work that truly distinguishes these men, through the way they lived and the way they worked. Bernini succeeded by surpassing expectations; Borromini startled by defying them. Bernini’s sensibility was persuasive, impressive, precocious and emotional. Borromini’s sensibility was personal, intuitive, logical and incorruptible. Together and apart, they worked to the best of their abilities to produce art that would last. They succeeded. And in the process, they became immortal. Sebastiano Serlio, the great Italian architect and historian, wrote in 1537, “Bella cosa è ne l’architetto l’esser abbondante d’inventioni.” It is a good thing in an architect to abound in invention. Both Bernini and Borromini understood this, and each, in his own way lived by that principle. Their legacy is a city that is an infinitely more beautiful place because of them.” -Jake Morrissey, The Genius in the Design.
Mille Grazie, Roma – thank you for the inspiration, the architecture, the art, the gardens, the food, the energy, and the great people we connected with along the way. Thank you for letting us get drawn-in for this past little while. We’ll be back, I’m sure.