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Michelangelo Archives - St. Stephen's University

From Florence to Rome

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

Whether Florence, Italy was an anticipated stop for us or not, many
were quickly enchanted by this city and its rich history, culture and
scenic and architectural beauty. One of our first stops, and arguably
one of the most memorable, was the Accademia, the museum that houses
one of the world’s most famous sculptures, Michelangelo’s David. This
sculpture, as well as other pieces we saw at places like the Uffizi
Gallery and Opera del Duomo, reminded us, as we often have, that
pictures in text books just do not do justice to these works of art,
and it really is a gift to be able to learn on the road as we are
right now. Also during our stay in Florence we made a day trip to
Sienna before stopping at a three century family owned winery where we
had the chance to taste some Chianti Classico wines and organic olive
oil.
En route to Rome we made a short stop in Orvieto, a quaint city atop a
mountain with spectacular views that stretches for miles.
Rome was another ‘long’ stop (4 nights!), but filled with planned and
unexpected adventures! Our stop coincided with the 150th anniversary
of Italy liberation. The streets and transit, as well as many of the
sites were bussling with people who had come to the country’s capital
to celebrate.  A stop to Rome would not be complete with out a trip to
the Vatican museum, Sistine chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica,
interestingly the same morning as the Pope’s address from that very
location. Other highlights included the Capitolini museum (which over
looks the ancient Roman Forum), the  Collusium (a AD 72 arena still
intact enough to catch a glimpse into what ancient Roman life might
have been like), the Pantheon (a temple built around the of Christ and
boasts one of the Roman’s most impressive architectural achievement,
the dome), the Trevi Fountain, Spanish steps, and the Catacombs (said
to have been the burial ground of Peter and Paul for some time).
Our stop in Rome has led many to wrestle through the connection
between tourism and pilgrimage, causing many to realize the importance
of creating intentional spaces to interact and engage with what we see
both mentally and spiritually so as to not get discouraged or
overwhelmed with the tourism around us.

Angela Berry (for the 2011 Europe Leadership Team)

Contained on Walls

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

All the best artists in the world traveled to Europe. They traveled by boat, horse and car. During the Renaissance such artists as Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci called Italy their artistic home. A week ago I sat by the river in the South of France. I saw the landscape of people walking their dogs, people sprawled out on blankets. Up until this moment art was an idea, something contained on walls and canvas. The real beauty of Western Europe is found on long bus rides and hot hot days traveling the urban and rural sprawl of Spain and France.

For me these past few weeks have been an actualization of inspiration. I now understand the desire to express the beauty of this land. The passion behind their art whether it was politics, religion, or human beauty makes my experience of their art more savory.

The beginning of this trip has been a realization of abstract ideas. While traveling to France I have stood where thousands of protestants hid during their prosecution. I have stood on the outskirts of the Coliseum, where martyrs of my faith stood and triumphantly died for their beliefs. I have been able to taste the fresh French croissant, smell the handmade Italian leather bags, and see the marble beauty of the David statue. These concepts have shed their fictional facade and have become real life experiences. These experiences have become a part of my history. My journeys are now intertwined with those historical figures from my history textbook.

The writer craves experiences, similarly the artists craves new landscapes. Understanding the vast geographical beauty of Western Europe has made my experience of art, architecture and food a daily exercise of thought and reflection.  I can not wait to experience all that Europe has to offer.

Grace

A Thousand Beginnings

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

At this moment I am sitting on the floor of my living room back home, seeking relief from the humidity and heat in the gentle breeze of a nearby fan. I am trying to write this final blog, my last published account of what I experienced and learned during two months studying in Europe, and finding it rather difficult to put my jumbled thoughts into words. Slightly out of frustration, I tell my mother that this blog has had ‘a thousand beginnings’— then I pause. The name seems fitting, and I roll with it.

This past Europe trip was an amazing opportunity to delve into the culture and history of what was once the very heart of the Western world. Seeing the artwork of Renaissance greats like Michelangelo and Raphael, listening to the music of Franz Liszt, solemnly passing through war sites and memorials— it was all the beginning of a new and richer understanding of both mind and spirit.

Also, in the midst of this whirlwind European tour I was given a glimpse of what could be: of different cultures and worlds that I might choose to call home in years to come. In this realization that I could really live in Europe, another beginning is made.

What else began on this trip? My appreciation for art, a renewed sorrow for the state of North American culture, a new appreciation for quiet time and personal space—catalyzed by those two months abroad. And at the same time I have also begun to understand the great value of my home in Ontario and of the family and friends who shape me there, as well as the influence in my life of small-town St. Stephen. Certainly I had considered why I love these places before, but not until now did I realize how deeply I have been molded by them—just as I have been molded by the different peoples and lifestyles I witnessed in Europe.

Beginnings, renewals, great changes and small—an experience of learning and of transition.

That is what Europe gave me; a thousand beginnings.

Overrated

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

One of my main goals for this trip was to really appreciate art. Anyone can look at a painting and see that it is a pretty picture, but I want to be moved by art. We’re now off to Venice and leaving the Italian Renaissance, the most recognizable transforming moment in art history, behind. We recently visited the Vatican Museum in Rome where I saw Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, a piece whose fame is topped, in my mind, only by his David, and by the Mona Lisa. To me this was an example of a pretty picture.  I walked into the chapel and, like everyone else, immediately looked up. I recognized the greatness of the work but felt little beyond that. A few superficial factors may have caused this, such as the dim lighting, the noise, and the amount of people, or that I came in at the front of the chapel instead of the back, but whatever it was, I was not really moved by this piece. Contrasting this was my visit, later that day, to Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, a Baroque statue in a chapel dedicated to Bernini. I don’t know how to express in words what I felt looking at it, but I was moved by this statue. Now I just need to figure out what, in a piece of art, causes this reaction in order to have a greater appreciation for art over the rest of the trip.

Dan Thiessen

celeberity like star struck awe

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

In this short time since our departure we have seen Spain, France and Italy. Our travels have taken us to many museums, basilicas and to view beautiful architecture, but I find myself having trouble keeping track of which country Michelangelo’s “David” was in, or Dalai’s “Persistence of Memory”, because it is all happening so fast.  I know for sure I am still in Italy because I am never hungry, I find myself with at least a second serving of gelato by noon and you can find wine for 1 Euro at the grocery store. Bottom line, I never want to leave. Regardless of what country we find ourselves in there is always plenty of art (and food) to be inspired by. I’m constantly finding myself in a celebrity like star struck awe when I come across a well known piece of art that I have seen many times in a textbook, now staring me in the face. A few have given me chills and caused me to pause longer to take in what I thought I would never see in “real life”.  Among these pieces of art I found myself taking extra time with Donatello’s Mary  Magdalene statue. Even now, days later I cannot get this image out of my mind. She seemed worn out and used in every way possible, it broke my heart how sad she looked. It got me thinking about her story and her own sense of value. I would imagine that the culture and church during her time was less than inviting to someone of her profession. It made me wonder if she ever felt loved. It’s always the story behind the art that causes me to pause and think of the lives of the characters or the painter. Now that I have seen Donatello’s “Mary Magdalene” and was deeply impacted by her body language and expression, I will remember her story. I cannot wait to see more inspiring pieces of art, we have plenty of countries ahead of us and with those come new characters, artists and stories to learn about.

Cara Lehocki

Taste and See

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

Traveling well has proved to be harder than it seems.

Perhaps it doesn’t help that, in all the places we have visited so far, there have been a distressing number of ‘typical’ tourists who often value a quick snapshot over the experience of the moment itself. Two and a half weeks into this trip, I am already finding the need to exhort great energy in my attempt to experience Europe in a tangible and lasting way.

Learning to separate myself from the rushed touristic mentality has probably been the biggest challenge for me so far. How to appreciate a work of art, or the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum with intentional integrity. How to see ‘The David’ as beautiful, not simply because Michelangelo made it or because it is a world-renowned piece of art– but rather because I allow it to touch me personally.

Some of my favourite pieces and sights so far have been those that the general public does not generally hear about in textbooks or travel guides.

The humble voices of a Spanish boys’ choir.

A Florentine plaster of a woman in mourning.

A depiction of Mary Magdalene from the Vatican, with eyes sore and red from crying at the death of her Saviour.

Having a conversation with the woman begging outside of a French basilica.

These things, these moments that you don’t see in travel guides because they are not substantial enough to be mentioned. These are the things that move me. By seeking them out, I am doing what I can to be more than a tourist passing through, striving instead to ‘taste and see’ the beauty and depth of  what is around  me.