This virtual exhibit entitled “Mind Garden” is more than a showcase of the student work from this semester. It’s a beautiful representation of how each student followed their dream to come to Florence to study, learn, and express themselves. I am reminded of the quote from Aristotle, “Whatsoever that be within us that feels, thinks, desires, and animates, is something celestial, divine, and, consequently, imperishable.” Mind Garden as a theme embodies the power of thought and a space where the seeds of ideas are sown. As ideas, concepts, and identities take root in individuals, a window of opportunity widens for rebuilding communities worldwide despite the uncertainty of current terrains. The creativity in each featured work is the result of how each our students cultivated their self-expression in unchartered places, many far from their home countries and all within the challenges brought on by 2020.
I would like to thank Fall 2020 students, faculty member, and staff for their commitment to learning and discovery, for believing in this semester’s journey of knowledge and experience in Florence. It will be an unforgettable term, and the visual documentation generated by the exhibit’s results will provide an ongoing source of reflection in the years to come.
FUA-AUF Staff, Digital Imaging and Visual Arts Coordinator
The art of gardening art
The words of culture are the words of cultivation: the Latin verb colo is a shared root for both the words “cultivation” and “culture”. A cultivated person is a person who cultivates culture all life long.
Prepare the soil, nurture and keep it moistened, select your seeds – some are traditional, some are recovered form forgotten traditions, some others get introduced as experiments –, shelter the seeds to allow their hidden work in the dark to unfold, pray for sun and water, keep your garden clean and safe, foster the right ecosystem to take place for a respectful as well as fruitful growing, spot the first soft green tones to appear – every time a surprise, fear for a sudden storm to ravage everything, wear a hat when light and warmth bring fruits to their glory and enjoy for a moment your own reverence in front of life unfolding.
The art of gardening art shows the same pace and traditional knowledge: seeds make their way into the dark soil of learning, through a humble and silent process of getting nurtured and protected for a long time before daring to dot the world with forms and colors.
Semester after semester, I have the privilege to witness all this happening in the minds and hearts of my art students, all the more in foundation art courses, like the ones I have taught this Fall 2020.
Students are naturally aware of this analogy between cultivating art and gardening: their works and statements stress both the conceptual link between the two, as well as the sensual pleasures of growing while learning and accepting the process of it, with the aim of offering fruits to the world, in a circular movement that will nurture and give life to more art in the future.
For moments, days, sometimes weeks, students have experienced the hopelessness that always tempts artists and gardeners. But they have also experienced that, eventually, fruits will grow, harvest will come, others will share their works.
I saw surprise, even awe in the eyes of many of my beginner students, who could not believe that hard work, passion, commitment, and time had brought fruits. And they were right, indeed, as gardeners and artists know that the crucial ingredient to cultivate the world is faith.
This is the sweeter fruit in the garden of art.
Professor: Nicoletta Salomon
Courses involved: Florence Sketchbook, Intro to Art Therapy, Foundation Painting, Words, Painting and Emotions: the mind map of creativity
Metaphors referring to the botanical universe are those most rooted in the depths of the human psyche. Even today in everyday language there are references to trees, forest seasons, gardens. A forest of symbols, the roots of thought, cultivating passions are all linguistic expressions that derive from the deep bond between man and the world of plants. In an attempt to describe the creative process using this universe of analogies, I am reminded of the words of the artist Joan Mirò “I work as a gardener. Things mature slowly. My vocabulary of forms, for example, I didn’t find out in one fell swoop. It was created almost in spite of me. Things follow their natural course. They grow, they mature. You have to prune. You have to irrigate…”
Professor: Paride Moretti