Helena Anderson ’11

Athens, Georgia
Art history and Francophone studies

Study Abroad Site: San Gemini, Italy

Program information: Along with Ali Nystrom ’10 and 30 other students from the U.S., Canada, and Australia, I participated in the San Gemini Preservation Studies program in Umbria (central Italy). It’s a summer field school that organizes lectures, research, fieldwork, workshops, and field trips in historic preservation, restoration, and conservation.

What we did: We took classes in the morning, learning about Italian art, architectural history, urban planning, building and preservation techniques, and the history of art conservation.  In the afternoons we did hands-on work on the façade of the church of Santo Gemine, the 12th century duomo. We cleaned the travertine stonework by removing 18th century plaster and mortar and replacing it with waterproof mortar to seal the façade and keep the building structurally sound as well as aesthetically pleasing. We also worked on another Romanesque church, San Giovanni Battista, surveying the outer walls of the city that abutted the church and plotting them into AutoCAD renderings. Plus, we researched the artwork within the church, drawing connections between the iconography in the art and local culture, history, and religious beliefs.  

Free time fun: San Gemini is a beautiful old hill town. We hiked in the surrounding mountains and traveled to Perugia, Assisi, and Rome. On the feast of Corpus Christi, the whole town celebrates. One way they do so is by creating Infiorata designs. The town splits into teams, and each decorates a street with intricate designs and religious images made of flower petals.  The day ends with a procession through town and a trophy for the team with the best design.

Future plans: I’m applying to PhD programs in art history for next fall. I’m most interested in curating, rather than art conservation, since chemistry isn’t exactly my forte. This program confirmed that art history is the right choice for me.

November 4 2010

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