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
Professor: Paride Moretti
6in x 8.5in
Pen on paper
This piece was created through the act of subconscious “doodling,” something that I often do to recollect my thoughts and to gain control over my mind and body. The act of drawing with a pen in this way brings me to a sort of meditative state. There is no preliminary
“Perfect Piazza Navona”
Pen and ink on A4 paper
A quick sketch made while sitting in Piazza Navona, Roma.
Pen on paper
Piazza della Repubblica
Letizia Guidine Costa
Pen and pencil on paper
The mind garden should blossom good feelings and good intentions. If people’s’ mind flourishes the good, the world will also be a garden, full of goodness.
Mariyam Manal Mushtag
Colombo, Sri Lanka
“Water Me”- 9.5x8cm, Pen
The sketch outline how nature and humans grow co-dependently, and how one is vital to the survival of the other. It also explores the sense that all living things need the same things to prosper, like water, nutrition etc. We are all essentially one and the same. We “root” through life a similar way as our plant counterparts and simplistically saying, all we need is love and care to blossom.
12 in x 13 in
Acrylic on canvas
Created through a balance between choice and chance, this piece explores the idea of perception. In his book A New Earth, author Eckhart Tolle claims that there is a “deep interrelatedness between your state of consciousness and external reality.” What grows in your mind is what cultivates in your world; what you believe is what you see.
Mixed media / Collage on Watercolor Paper 26x36cm
“Treasures of Nature are Temporary.”
The common desire of a person is to draw from nature without considering the importance of giving back. The most common human way of living and expanding disrupts every sphere of nature and distorts the world. Now the density of cities and the noice of the people within overflows the space in which other beings did once dwell and thrive. Humanity renders the beings which once reigned over the earth silent.
Ballston Spa, New York
“Slow Growing Progress”
21 x 29.7 cm
Watercolor and acrylics
I created a very layered piece, focusing on texture, color play and transparency. I painted layers of flowers on top of each other to show how ideas are built upon and built upon until change occurs. I increased the saturation of the colors and the thickness of the paint no each layer to create depth.
Lucy Joy L. Bianchi
Ink and Watercolor on Paper
Dimensions: 22cm x 28cm
Colorado Christian University
Psychology student with minors in English and Art
A Reflection on Blossoming as a Result of Art Therapy
To feel or think is to see but to feel and think is to understand. I yearn to touch my hands to paper and clay in such a way that whatever I create calls my mind and my soul together in a quiet symphony of synapses and breath. I yearn to be not fragments but one… and, in these moments, I am.
Cumberland, Maine, USA. Endicott College.
“When the Great Creator Grows”
Watercolors & Markers
When crafting my work, I like to reflect in my mind what emotions or feelings I may be experiencing. With the concept of the Mind Garden and thinking of the question “Do you even grow anything in the garden of your mind?”, it allowed me to express emotions from within. The possibilities of creating are endless, and there is no limit to what can be done. Now more than ever, art is the center of my world. It has been my outlet during stressful times, but also has been a source when things are going well.
12in x 13in
Acrylic on canvas
I created this piece as I sat in a state of contradiction; cross-legged on the cold, tile floor, while the
warmth radiating from the heater flowed onto my back. The development of this piece sprouted from my awareness of these two opposing feelings on the top and lower parts of my body, loose and comforting vs. sharp and unforgiving. This visual representation of awareness, of the senses, had directly sprouted and developed from a form of consciousness planted deep in the mind.
The Mind’s Eye
30cm x 40cm
Acrylic on Paper
The Mind’s Eye is a work created with limited acrylic palette on canvas. Through the combination of natural imagery and Zentangle patterns, I created a visual representation of how I experience the world around me as an artist. When creating art, I take inspiration from the
world around me. I take moments and emotions from my own life and internalize them, allowing them to grow and flourish as a concept inside my mind until I feel that I am ready to reintroduce them to the world around me as my own creations.
“Grow with the Flow”
Watercolors, graphite pencil, and acrylic paint on paper
While making this painting I was inspired by simplistic pen drawings of greenery and the shapes and forms that they made. I choose colors that are calming to me and make me think of nature. A mind garden is not always perfect because life isn’t perfect, we grow and learn from all types of experiences. This painting represents to me growth through experience and the state of learning to accept the process
Monroe, New York
12” x 15 ¾”
Acrylic Paint and Sharpie Marker
This artwork was created by using acrylic paint and black markers. I always love the uncontrollable factor of placing water on paper then adding paint to it, creating a scene of colors with different amounts of dilution. When I think of “Mind Garden,” I think it is unique and personal to every single person but it is the beauty of all our thoughts and ideas swirling around in our minds to eventually be flowing out of us in a creative way. You nurture your ideas and practice patience when discovering what it is you want to create like a literal garden.
Title: The boomerang Principle
Two pieces 50cmx70cm Oil And acrili on canvans
The diptych personifies the relationship of man to Mother Nature. The most important thing in this composition is our biological instrument – hands, which are a means of expressing feelings and actions. Two birds are a reflection of our beautiful world and at the same time personify the Boomerang Principle in my paintings. We have to take care of nature, and she will take care of us.
Group Project Mixed Media Class
“Map Your Paradise”
England Caleb, Harris Demi, Serejute Karolina, Tonetto Anna Giulia, Tulegenova Anel, Okwuowulu Mary Lucy.
Tecniques: Maps, watercolors, pen
What is a map? How does the representation of geographical space coincide with the real aspects of the territory? Why do some cartographic boundaries have geometric shapes while others follow the natural designs of rivers or mountains? What is a geopolitical boundary and how does this limit affect the interactions between the peoples it separates?
This experimental group work starts from the appropriation and recycling of old maps of sub-Saharan Africa. Students were asked to put an ideal garden project back on the map. From the overlapping of the poetic and utopian gesture to topographic geographies emerge questions and reflections on the interconnections between man and geophysical space.
“IL Mio Vero Fratello”
oil on wood panel, 34cm W x 47cm H
Prof. Paride Moretti
Inspired by an event from my own life of a friend saving my life in the summer of 2019 after a suicide attempt. Though we may seek to cultivate the mind garden to flourish and blossom, there may remain untended areas which can spread disease and rot to other plants. I was in the military with the man pictured with me, we have spent many events in extreme danger together.
“Back to our Roots”
Foundation SculptureProf. Paride Moretti
I took inspiration from primitive and African sculptures, which lead me to the sculpture work of Amedeo Modigliani. After researching these works of art, I was drawn to the abstract representation of a face and how it could captivate so much emotion in something quite simple. For my sculpture, keeping the theme of mind-garden in the back of my head, I wanted to create something that would directly connect with nature by holding the earth/plants (aka a vase). As I began working I wanted the face to look as if it was thinking, held by its hand in symbolism to the power of thought. I created this piece to be a show piece, inviting the audience to think for themselves about the footprint they live on this earth and how desperately we must get “back to our roots” to save this magnificent planet we call home.
Title: Peace of Mind
Prof. Paride Moretti
The sculpture represents calmness and an inner state of confidence. A kind and wise look conveys great spirituality and harmony. This universal harmony unites all things together so as to make one, which helps us to find mental and psychological balance. Facial features and expressions reflect a positive attitude towards all living things and beauty. A person who is spiritually rich always tries to bring love and a proper understanding of his life.
Title: Father of the Forest
Prof. Paride Moretti
The Green Man represents the spirit of nature in the form of man. Since ancient times, people believed that human beings are directly related to the fate of nature. The Green Man mutely reminds us that we forget. This unusual personification of sort of forest god combines a love for flora and fauna that is inherent in the human mind.
Full Time Student 3rd Year
Medium Format Black and White Film
A4 Canson Photographique
While seasons come and go in their stable cycles a person’s journey is always filled with ups and downs and that is what ‘The Journey’ is all about. The phases that most of us go through like experiencing many pains, struggles, and trials. A quote from K.M. Golland ‘Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, love and loss. And life would not be worth experiencing if it weren’t just that. You can’t have the good without the bad, you need to somehow learn to accept the bad and adjust it in a way that you can endure and overcome’. All of this is portrayed through a pair of shoes.
The shoes you wear, like fashion and beauty products, may tell something about who you are as a person. Not only does your favorite footwear allude to your everyday mood, it is a sartorial icon often bundled with hints about your tastes and hobbies. After all, shoes are armour, in which we can protect our feet and the foundation needed to take on everything the day can throw our way, whether it’s a
torrential downpour or climbing stairs.
By removing the “human element” from my portraits, I was forced to show visual emotions via the details of the locations and the scenarios that the pair of shoes were placed in. My goal was to abandon the typical semiotics way of reading portraits and allow the viewer to come to a conclusion of what was happening to the pair of shoes simply by the way the image was photographed and where.
The decision to shoot in black and white film is because film has a timeless consistency to it. It can be striking, engaging, breathtaking, and certainly moody. Film eliminates any color distraction enabling the viewer to concentrate on other aspects of the picture, such as the subject, the textures, patterns and shapes, as well as the composition with no color interference. Psychologically, something about the variation in tonal ranges, rich blacks, and intense contrasts are appealing to all of us. It establishes a connection that causes you to stop and pay attention to what is being addressed.