Selection of Students’ Initial Visual Responses

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As our Fall Semester is now in full swing, here is a slideshow with a selection of some of our students’ initial visual responses for our course activities, and a video clip below created by student Sofia Bteibet.  You can see more of the students’ responses to the Intro Unit activities on their individual pages:

Intro Unit Activites & Excursions

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Our first full week of the Intro Unit was very full indeed, including visits to the Civic Museum of Palazzo Pubblico, the Museum Complex of Santa Maria della Scala including the Briganti Biblioteca and Fototeca & the City Archives of Siena.  You can see the students’ responses to the Intro Unit activities on their individual pages:

Orientation Trip, Colle Val d’Elsa and Monteriggioni

As our first day together with Project Fellow Wafa Hourani and students from the Siena Art Institute’s Art and Society class, we explored the town of Colle Val d’Elsa and the nearby hamlet of Monterigigoni, together with students from our partner program Siena School for Liberal Arts. The visit included a guided tour of the Archological Museum of Colle Val d’Elsa, an introduction to the many layers of the territory and its structures.

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Fall 2014 Semester has begun!


For the Fall 2014 semester, we have a great group of students from Italy, Greece, India, China, and the US.  The central project of the Art & Society course this autumn will be inspired by the work of our fall project fellow, Palestinian artist Wafa Hourani, in a collaborative project entitled “Orientamenti: Reshaping Past Traditions” working together with the Sienese Museums Foundation, the City of Colle Val d’Elsa and the Muslim Association of Siena and its Province, Wafa Hourani’s work explores the themes of territories, borders, cross-cultural interactions, identity, belonging and human rights, and means of artistic expression in situations of crisis or sociopolitical/economic difficulty.

In our increasingly global and inter-connected society, what is meant today by the word “territory”? 

How do “territories” relate to your own personal experience?  

From our precarious positions in a world of intersecting and overlapping territories, what artworks can we create as a response?  

In the Art and Society course this semester, we will be working together to explore and be inspired by our surroundings here in Tuscany, and to consider how the dynamics of inter-cultural dialogue can impact our contemporary art practices.  Our student artists will be guided through a series of projects to foster their ongoing portfolio development, receiving feedback about their work from classmates, teachers, and our visiting artists.  Visits to cultural sites, exhibitions, and museums, as well as reference materials such as books and articles will further enhance the development of their artistic projects during the semester.

The Art & Society course in the Fall 2014 semester is divided into three main project units:

Intro Unit:  Orientation and Disorientation:  Narrating Spaces
Exploring the territory of Siena including the city of Colle Val d’Elsa, both its history as well as its contemporary realities.  Creating artworks as initial responses to your new-found surroundings here.

Mid-Term Unit:  Reshaping Past Traditions: Photo-Life

Inspired by the work of Wafa Hourani, we will be working on the development of artistic projects addressing themes of territories and encounters between cultures as seen through your eyes.  Along with the development of your individual studio projects, we will be working together with Wafa Hourani on an installation “Today Is Tomorrow -The Future of Colle” employing his technique of “Photo-Life” to imagine what the local territory could become in the future.  On Nov 15 this part of the semester will culminate in a symposium in Colle Val d’Elsa exploring the theme of territories, including the exhibition of the collaborative Photo-Life project, and an Open Studio showcasing students’ individual work at the Siena Art Institute on Nov 14.  The symposium will involve panel discussions, dialogue and debate in which contemporary art will serve as a focal point for bringing together different ideas, cultures and sensibilities in a spirit of diversity and tolerance.

Final Projects

Culminating in the end-of-semester exhibition opening Dec 13, held at the Siena Art Institute, students will further expand upon their earlier projects in the creation of their end-of-semester projects.  Over mid-term break students will draft a written project proposal explaining their ideas for your final project, and through individual advising, thematic discussions, and group critiques, they will be supported in the development of their final project work. The final exhibition will stay on view for one week and will be free and open to the public.

For more information about Wafa Hourani and the ORIENTamenti project, visit: