An Italian Sojourn with the Summer Study Program of Academy of Art

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The group of painters and instructors in Italy in the Summer 2013, in the SRISA gallery after the student exhibit


There is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students of the Academy of Art University of San Francisco to live and create their art while experiencing the culture and history of Italy.


Each summer, students and faculty live in Italy for a Fine Art Study Abroad Program during almost two months while exploring the Italian landscape and culture.


A retrospective of works produced in such locations as Venice, Rome, Tuscany and Umbria, was showcased by the Italian Cultural Institute, in partnership with Academy of Art University, in the exhibition “An Italian Sojourn”.

A celebration of painting 'al fresco', the exhibition showed paintings in-studio and open air, examples of printmaking, and book art created by students and faculty.

   The Venice painting is a demonstration painting that was painted by Craig Nelson (Director of Fine Art) on location in Venice 

   The Venice painting is a demonstration painting that was painted by Craig Nelson (Director of Fine Art) on location in Venice 


L'Italo-Americano interviewed the organizer Annamarie Nelson, Fine Art Online Coordinator of the Academy of Art University.


When did the Study Abroad Program in Italy by the Academy of Art started?

The study abroad program started in the summer of 2006. Craig Nelson had been conducting private painting workshops in Italy and he had a vision to create the summer study abroad program for our Academy students. Craig along with Jason Bowen, one of our faculty members, collaborated to begin the program in Corciano, a small town in Umbria. The program has grown and expanded to a facility in Florence that offers more opportunities for our students with a painting studio and an incredible printmaking facility as well as exploring and living in the fabulous city of Florence.

The study abroad experience allows students to broaden their awareness of the Italian culture, to live in Italy for a summer and experience the rich history and artistic influences enabling students to enrich their personal artistic journey. Painting, drawing, printmaking are the main focus of the Fine Art program and we hope to expand the studies to other departments at the Academy.

  A student painting on location in Umbria 

  A student painting on location in Umbria 


How many American students apply every year for the summer program in Italy?

We generally have 20-26 students, many students are from other countries and also may be online students from other areas of the world.  The program is open to non-Academy students as well, students would have to enroll in the summer semester at the Academy in order to participate in the Study Abroad program.

The Fine Art department selects three of our faculty to go to Florence to teach our curriculum and students receive credits toward their degree during the summer study abroad semester.


What disciplines are usually studied from the students, and what they like the most from this experience?

Location painting, sketching, printmaking (including relief printing, intaglio, and monoprint) as well as book arts, are the main focus for this program. Students truly enjoy living in Florence and are given a museum pass so that they may visit all museums within the city at any time. This allows them to be constantly inspired by not only the city itself but all of the art within the museums.  Students live in apartments throughout the city and really experience the Italian lifestyle.  The program provides two weekend excursions; one to Rome and another to Venice as well as weekly locations in and around Florence. 


How are the art schools in Italy selected?

The program is our Fine Art curriculum and we provide our Academy instructors.  We utilize the facility at Santa Reparata in Florence because they have both painting and printmaking studios as well as a staff that can assist students with housing and travel possibilities while students are in Italy.  They also have a gallery to exhibit student work at the end of the summer program.


Tell us more about the importance of the art exhibits organized at the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco.

The Director of the Cultural Institute has been extremely generous to host an exhibit of artwork from our faculty and students who participated in the summer study abroad. The exhibit allows us to participate in community events and raise awareness of the incredible inspiration that Italy offers. 

We hope to continue to grow the summer study abroad program and expand the studies to other departments at the Academy such as Illustration, Fashion, Architecture, Sculpture, Graphic Design , etc....the possibilities are endless.


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