February 2019

Fellow Shoptalks

Shoptalks – Allison Emmerson and Michael Saltarella

  • Monday, 4 February 2019 - 6:00pm
AAR Lecture Room

Allison Emmerson
Pestilence, Paupers, and Puticuli: Reconsidering Rome’s Esquiline Suburb

Nineteenth-century excavations on the Esquiline Hill uncovered something truly shocking: puticuli, mass graves filled with the remains of Republican Rome’s poorest residents, who had been tossed out like garbage to pollute the suburb immediately outside the city walls. In the past century and a half, the idea of mass graves on the Esquiline has become canonical. This talk problematizes and reinterprets the finds, encouraging new understandings of Roman urbanism and infrastructure in the Republican period.

Allison Emmerson is the Emeline Hill Richardson Post-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellow in Ancient Studies and assistant professor in the Department of Classical Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Michael Saltarella
Deviant Landscapes: Irregularity and the Formal Garden

The emotional resonance of gardens such as Bomarzo is uncanny, transcending genre and time, and reaching us on an intuitive level. Sinister monsters loom over the valley seemingly set on the destruction of order, a clear deviation from the rigid formality of the Renaissance garden. Today landscapes are supposed to “function” and “perform,” and there is not much talk of monsters or emotions. This talk will investigate the subtle and not so subtle irregularities in formal gardens throughout Italy, and how these irregularities can contribute to the emotional complexity and overall experience of the landscape.

Michael Saltarella is the Prince Charitable Trusts/Kate Lancaster Brewster Rome Prize Fellow in Landscape Architecture and an associate at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The shoptalks will be held in English. Watch Allison Emmerson’s shoptalk live at

Please note: a valid photo ID is required for entry into the American Academy in Rome. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than 40 x 35 x 15 cm (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.

Fellow Shoptalks

Shoptalks – Mark Letteney and Renato Leotta

  • Monday, 11 February 2019 - 6:00pm
AAR Lecture Room and Studio 303

Mark Letteney

How Is Truth? The Christianization of Roman Knowledge

The rise of Christianity in Rome changed what people think. But it also changed how people think. This talk reexamines what it means for Rome to become a “Christian” society by tracing the movement of a peculiarly Christian structure of knowledge into the secular domain during the late fourth century, in the generations after Christians first came to hold significant political power.

Mark Letteney is the Paul Mellon/Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellow in Ancient Studies and a PhD candidate in the Department of Religion at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

Renato Leotta
Infinite poetic space

How can the space dedicated to artistic process be described? In a landscape photograph, the coastline that divides the earth from the sea is imagined as an infinite poetic space. In this place full of temporality the theme of the Garden and of Adventure alternate, a story described in images and experiments.

The Turnin-based artist Renato Leotta is the Fondazione Sviluppo e Crescita CRT Italian Fellow in Visual Arts.

The shoptalks will be held in English. Watch Letteney’s shoptalk live at

A valid photo ID is required for entry into the American Academy in Rome. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than 40 x 35 x 15 cm (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.


CAA Annual Conference – Multiple Cosmologies: Celestial Imagery in the Medieval and Early Modern World

  • Thursday, 14 February 2019 - 4:00pm
New York Hilton Midtown
New York
Detail of folio 30R of Georgius Zothorus Zaparus Fendulus’s Liber astrologicae (ca. 1401–1500) in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (artwork in the public domain)

CAA Annual Conference
New York Hilton Midtown
2nd Floor, Bryant Suite

“What does it mean to orient oneself in space?” Aby Warburg sought to answer this question through images of the stars, planets, and cosmos. For Warburg, these images were spaces that mediated between individuals and a complex set of relationships, allowing viewers to place themselves psychologically in relation to multiple geographies, temporalities, and genealogies. Images of the cosmos did not reduce complexity, but dialectically negotiated pluralities.

Recent scholarship has enriched our understanding of the sociocultural and intellectual spheres in which medieval and early modern celestial imagery was produced. Yet, it often reduces the complexity of these images. For instance, in the persistent narrative of East/West knowledge “transfer,” images are read as embodiments of abstract ideas, while specific geographical and chronological points are selected to construct a Eurocentric narrative of scientific renaissance. Instead, we must acknowledge the image’s multiplicity: images as material objects, not essential ideas, produced for and by active agents, circulated along networks and part of complex power dynamics. Images of the celestial spheres emerge as dynamic spaces, through which viewers, patrons, and producers negotiated multiple sociocultural landscapes.

Among the topics this panel will consider include: images in motion; negotiating intercultural exchange in political and intellectual spheres; images constructing relations across multiple identities in a single place; images and their texts in translation, as well as the renegotiations that accompany such movement; rethinking narratives of image/knowledge “transfer.” Cosmic imagery offers new insights when considered as part of a complex constellation that is earthly as well as celestial.


Anna Theresa Majeski, American Academy in Rome and Institute of Fine Arts, New York University


Eric Ramírez-Weaver, University of Virginia
A Bohemian Vision of al-Sufi’s Astronomical Tradition: Clusters of Islamic Influence North and South of the Alps

Mari Y. Hara, Cooper Union and Columbia University (2014 Fellow)
Astronomy as Middle Ground: Jesuit Celestial Maps and Cross-Cultural Trust in Late Ming China

Anna Theresa Majeski, American Academy in Rome and Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
From Cethyn to Sicily: The Worlds of Georgius Fendulus’s “Liber astrologicae”


Benjamin Anderson, Cornell University
Multiple Cosmologies: Comparison Beyond Culture

Registration for the CAA Annual Conference is required to attend this session. AAR recommends purchasing a “pay as you wish” day pass. Please visit the CAA website for more information.

This panel is made possible in part by the Fellows Project Fund of the American Academy in Rome.


Cinque Mostre 2019 - Δx Displacement

  • Wednesday, 20 February 2019 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm
McKim, Mead & White Building

CINQUE MOSTRE 2019: Δx Displacement
An annual exhibition of artwork and curatorial projects by the Rome Prize and Italian Fellows and invited artists.
Guest curator: Ilaria Gianni.
Opening: February 20

Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, Erin Besler, Carola Bonfili, Joannie Bottkol + Allison Emmerson + Zaneta Hong + Karyn Olivier, Michael Ray Charles, Invernomuto, Sze Tsung Nicolás Leong + Judy Chung*, Renato Leotta, Michelle Lou + Marcel Sanchez Prieto + Adriana Cuéllar, Jessie Marino + Michael Leighton Beaman, Helen O’Leary + Joannie Bottkol, Gabriele Silli, Basil Twist + Kirstin Valdez Quade + Kenneth Ard, Francesco Zorzi

Composed of collaborative projects, under the collective title Δx Displacement, Cinque Mostre 2019 features work by current Rome Prize Fellows, Italian Fellows, and invited artists installed in various sites throughout the McKim, Mead & White Building at the American Academy in Rome, and including a series of performances. The performances presented on the occasion of the opening will be repeated during a collateral event on March 7.

Please note that space is very limited for the performances (at 6:30pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm) by Basil Twist, Kirstin Valdez Quade and Kenneth Ard. Reservations can be made at the entrance to the exhibition on the opening night. Reservations will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. The performance lasts 10 minutes.

Bringing together works by visual artists, architects, designers, writers, archeologists, art historians and conservators, in a range of media and scales that respond to the various meanings of the term displacement, Δx focuses on conditions questioning the poetics of the ordinary, unsettling a sense of belonging, and disrupting conventional relationships.

The title of the exhibition, which sums up themes explored in different ways by all of the participating artists, takes its cue from the project conceived by Fellows Michelle Lou (composer) and Marcel Sanchez Prieto (architect), who ask “how do our spaces/environments reinforce a sense of place in the world, and how does displacement affect our sense of ourselves?”

A reference point is a recognizable element that grounds our sense of place both materially and immaterially. In order to describe any type of motion, we must indicate an initial position, one that is either shared with other individuals. A frame of reference can thus be geographical, architectural, historical, experience-based or even emotional, and a shift from this initial position, whether physically objective or subjective and personal, is defined as displacement not only by political, philosophical and psychological theories, but by mathematics. The equation Δx = xf ​− x0​ (where Δx refers to the displacement, xf​ to the value of the final position, and x0​ to the value of the initial position) is unequivocal: displacement is the difference in the position of two marks and is independent of the path taken when traveling between them. Following this logic, the American Academy in Rome is itself a dislocated space, and the Rome Prize Fellows are part of a displaced community, albeit one integrated into the surrounding city.

Δx broadly investigates the design and representation of stability, reflecting on the states of permanent upheaval whether social, political or emotional. The works in the exhibition, informed by numerous dialogues between overlapping fields of research, offer a dynamic exchange of opinions. Each intends to disrupt conventional images of natural or built environments of recollection, historical narratives, or emotional or physical perceptions, blurring the limits between reality and fiction, between a now and then, between a here and there.

Through the interplay of disparate media, shifting traditional models of image-making and story-telling, Δx mirrors the human relationship to life, history, vision, space, and nature, creating an experience where the impact of each element reverberates throughout the exhibition. Viewed together, the works provoke a lively discussion around ideas of dislocating and decentering, drawing on the audience’s participation to further enhance the reading of the terms, underlining how the act of displacement is, willing or otherwise, constantly affecting all physical, social and spiritual movements surrounding us.

Opening: February 20, 6pm – 9pm
Gallery hours: Saturday and Sunday from 4pm to 7pm
On show until 31 March 2019
Free entrance

The exhibition is made possible by the Adele Chatfield-Taylor and John Guare Fund for the Arts. Special thanks to Cernit and ROSCO production sponsors of the project “Macula” by Francesco Zorzi.

* Mary Beard, Carmen Belmonte, Michelle Berenfeld, Liana Brent, Thomas Carpenter, Jim Carter, Lan Samantha Chang, Judy Chung, Alessandra Ciucci, Talia Di Manno, Allison L. C. Emmerson, Louisa Ermelino, Maria Ida Gaeta, Vincent Katz, Karen Kevorkian, Eric J. Kondratieff, Lynne C. Lancaster, Mark Letteney, Anna Majeski, Francesca Marciano, Peter Benson Miller, Victoria Moses, John Ochsendorf, Austin Powell, Kirstin Valdez Quade, John F. Romano, Bennett Sims, Sean Tandy, Virginia Virilli, Lauren K. Watel, William N. West

A valid photo ID is required for entry into the American Academy in Rome. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than cm 40 x 35 x 15 (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.

Fellow Shoptalks

Shoptalks – Amy Franceschini and Austin Powell

  • Monday, 25 February 2019 - 6:00pm
AAR Lecture Room

​Amy Franceschini
Situational Intelligence

Amy Franceschini will introduce her work within the international artist group Futurefarmers. She will focus on an unconventional public artwork initiated in Abruzzo in 2010, which continues and grows today. Situated in the rural setting of a small village below the Gran Sasso in Abruzzo, Futurefarmers has been working with a community of ancient grain farmers as a lens into the ever-closing of the commons—biological, knowledge, land, and the electromagnetic spectrum.

The San Francisco–based artist Amy Franceschini is the Mark Hampton Rome Prize Fellow in Design.

Austin Powell
Cultivating Communities of Reform: Reading Letters in Fifteenth-Century Italy

The Observant movement was a religious reform that swept Italy and much of Western Europe in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In this presentation, Austin Powell will explore some ways in which reform was cultivated in fifteenth-century religious communities. He will propose that certain patterns of reading and thought can be identified by examining the marginal notations in manuscripts of devotional literature.

Austin Powell is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellow in Medieval Studies and a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the Catholic University of America.

Please note: a valid photo ID is required for entry into the American Academy in Rome. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than 40 x 35 x 15 cm (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.