The following was contributed by Renée D., a member of ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime studies Class of 2010. The ARCA staff has enlisted her to provide updates on the program's progress as well as to, hopefully, convey some of the intimate nuances and intricacies of life in Amelia to those of us outside its medieval walls. The program runs June 1 through August 13.
Before the second week of the postgraduate program started, ARCA arranged our first field trip to the medieval city of Orvieto. Narrow and winding, the roads lead up the hills and through picturesque countryside to get to the top of a plateau where Orvieto is situated. Noah met us at the top of the plateau to finish off his week of teaching by giving us a full walk through of Orvieto’s medieval gothic church or duomo, as it is called in Italian. The duomo was truly breath-taking as we took in the same structure that even inspired Michelangelo. It was yet another unexpected reminder that we are in fact walking around in the shadows of the Renaissance masters who once roamed over Orvieto’s cobblestones. Noah challenged us at the church to put to use some of the skills we had learned over the past week and do a little hostile surveillance, which entailed identifying security measures and exits as if we were planning to take something from the church. This is a useful exercise to help prevent potential thefts before they occur from any institution. After, as a special treat, we went around to the back of the church to a separate attached chapel to see the skeleton remains of a Catholic female martyr, who had been speared to death. Over the course of the day, you could see in everyone’s face a sense of delight. Perhaps it was the view from the plateau over the expansive countryside, or the ceiling paintings within the church, or even the taste of gelato on a hot Saturday, but it was impossible not to feel it.
Back in the classroom in week two, we have been learning about the art world from London-based art historian, Tom Flynn. Although many of the students have art history backgrounds, it is always refreshing to listen to a different point of view on the subject as Tom literally keeps switching between his two sets of glasses throughout his lectures. While Noah shared stories about the Ghent Altarpiece, Tom has already shared interesting anecdotes about collectors such as Albert Barnes and Edward Perry Warren. Flynn, the sculpture scholar, can be spotted among the students watching the World Cup matches in his breezy linen shirts, as well as discussing various topics in the art field at Bar Leonardi. Easy to talk to and extremely knowledgeable, Tom maintains his own art-related blog among his many projects: http://tom-flynn.blogspot.com/.
The contemporary English gentleman, Flynn has challenged us this week to present to the class our own thirty minute manifesto for the art world. The topic could range from our personal issues with the art market to our expertise within the art world. Ultimately, it is daunting to tackle such an assignment because how does one really go about chipping away the issues of a world whose existence is kept shroud in mystery to even those who play a part within it? It is somewhat intimidating to stand in front of your peers to talk about your opinions on aspects of a world we all wish to join in some way, but we are all in Amelia to learn how to protect the currency of this world, which is art. To pinpoint an area that we find contention with in the end is to pinpoint where our own passions lie. This exercise really is to our benefit because as we move full speed ahead on the bumpy winding roads within the world of Art, we must overcome our romantic views and weak stomachs to be able to stand in front of anyone to explain the important cultural value of the art we all want to protect.