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Brandeis in Siena students got an up close look at the Venice Biennale

Brandeis in Siena students stand outside the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Brandeis in Siena students with Chris Bedford and Joe Wardwell outside the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

A group of 10 students got an intimate, special access look at the Venice Biennale this summer.

The Brandeis in Siena study abroad program toured the U.S. Pavilion with Chris Bedford, former director of the Rose Art Museum and current director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, who curated the U.S. pavilion at the world's premier art festival.

"It was an incredible experience," said Alli Steinberg '19, an art history major who was a student in the Brandeis in Siena Program. "I felt that I could actually get a sense of the international art scene by experiencing art from many countries first hand. Not only was the artwork beautiful, it also shed light on global issues that were relevant to people across countries and cultures."

The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis and the Baltimore Museum of Art co-sponsored of the pavilion, called “Tomorrow is Another Day.” It featured the work of Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford, who is known for his detailed, layered, map-like murals. Pavilions from over 80 countries participated in the 57th Venice Biennale, which is largely considered the world’s pre-eminent contemporary art show.

When Brandeis' involvement in the Biennale was announced in 2015, the wheels in Studio Arts Professor Joe Wardwell's mind started spinning.

"From the minute it was announced, I wanted to get the students to be able to do something with the pavilion," said Wardwell, who oversees the Siena program.

Wardwell applied for and received a grant from the Brandeis Arts Council to pay for travel from Siena to Venice, accommodations and passes to the Biennale for all students in the Brandeis in Siena Program over the weekend of July 27th to 30th.

The students were given entrance to the biennale, and were taken through the U.S. pavilion by Bedford, who contextualized the works piece by piece in the pavilion and allowed the students to closely examine them and ask questions of the curator.

"They received a whole different perspective," Wardwell said. "Any time you can pull the scrim back, that's a huge educational value."

The Brandeis in Siena program is a two-course, intensive summer program that combines studio art and art history. It is a culturally immersive, experiential learning experience that focuses primarily on art of the Renaissance, giving the students the life-changing experience of learning and working surrounded by the masters they are studying. It is a collaboration of Brandeis University and the Siena Art Institute.

“By collaborating with the Siena Art Institute, students get to engage with both local Italian faculty and a Brandeis faculty member. This is a unique opportunity for our students to partake in cross-cultural, experiential learning," said Associate Dean of Study Abroad J. Scott Van Der Meid. "It is a wonderful way to integrate learning with more international perspectives." 

Categories: Arts, International Affairs, Student Life

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