Current

Rome Prize Fellows

The American Academy in Rome awards the Rome Prize to a select group of artists and scholars, after an application process that begins in the fall of each year. The winners, announced in the spring, are invited to Rome to pursue their work in an atmosphere conducive to intellectual and artistic freedom, interdisciplinary exchange, and innovation. Rome Prize winners are listed here with a brief project summary in their own words.

Ancient Studies

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Samuel H. Kress Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (year two of a two year fellowship)

Liana Brent

PhD Candidate, Department of Classics, Cornell University
Photo: Danny Bright
Corporeal Connections: Tomb Disturbance, Reuse, and Violation in Roman Italy

My doctoral research explores nonélite Roman burial practices that involved postdepositional activity, including disturbance, reuse, and violation. This project prioritizes body-oriented research and the human remains that were once a corpse and the focus of mortuary treatment. I consider the handling of skeletal remains at the time of grave reopening in inhumation—as opposed to cremation—burials in nonmonumental cemeteries throughout Roman Italy from the late first to early fifth centuries CE. This research integrates published evidence from suburban and semirural cemeteries with current methods from archaeothanatology. By investigating the state of the human remains at the time of reopening and the time between depositions, my argument centers around the ways in which the addition of individuals and the manipulation of human skeletal elements could create and maintain intergenerational corporeal connections between the deceased and the living.

Emeline Hill Richardson Post-Doctoral Rome Prize

Allison L. C. Emmerson

Assistant Professor, Department of Classical Studies, Tulane University
Urbanism on the Margins: Life and Death in the Roman Suburb

“Urbanism on the Margins” aims to reposition the dead as a central part of ancient life. Over the past two decades, Roman urban studies have come to see the suburb as intimately connected to the city center. Nevertheless, tombs—the defining feature of suburbs—have been left out of this shift. Research on cities still passes over tombs, while work on death has focused on issues seen as separate from urbanism. This project introduces a new paradigm, considering Roman tombs within their ancient landscape of shops, houses, workshops, rubbish dumps, entertainment buildings, and sanctuaries to trace the many roles they played in the living city. The book argues that tombs were not simply passive memorials, but active spaces that both facilitated and furthered the social, religious, and economic life of the city.

Andrew Heiskell Post-Doctoral Rome Prize

Eric J. Kondratieff

Associate Professor, Department of History, Western Kentucky University
Tribunes of the Plebs in the Roman Republic (493–31 BCE)

My book, a major expansion of my dissertation, incorporates much new research and analysis on tribunes of the plebs, including demographics, career paths, activity in Rome civic landscape, and patterns of interaction with magistrates, senate, and plebs. A key contribution is its comprehensive assemblage and analysis of source data on tribunes in a massive, detailed “Chronology of Tribunes” (170,000+ words). This Chronology includes microhistories of all known tribunes and 650+ actions attributed in our sources to anonymous (unnamed) tribunes. Peer reviewers agree that the collected data on anonymous tribune activity represent a significant advance in available resources essential for new work on the tribunes, the tribunate as an institution, and Republican political culture; it also lays the groundwork for a substantial reassessment of debated issues, such as the tribunate’s central role in Rome’s administrative functioning and popular participation in politics and legislation. The book concludes with an examination of Augustus’ appropriation in 23 BCE of tribunicia potestas—without holding the office of tribune—as a key component for his bundle of powers.

Paul Mellon/Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize

Mark Letteney

PhD Candidate, Department of Religion, Princeton University
Christianizing Knowledge: A New Order of Books in the Theodosian Age

My dissertation approaches Christianization from a new angle: not the Christianization of people, but of structures of knowledge. In it, I trace changes to documentary practice and readerly expectations across technical literature from the late fourth through the middle of the fifth century CE. I explore late antique scholarly productions ranging from Christian theological tractates and conciliar acta to Roman juristic writings and authoritative legal compendia, military handbooks, grammatical treatises, and the Palestinian Talmud in order to explore the ways that imperial Christianity inflected the production of truth even in domains that do no constructive theological work. Bishops, rabbis, and jurists in the Theodosian era produced definitive statements of sophisticated intellectual traditions with startlingly similar forms, and I argue that all are best understood as products of a considerably unified, and novel, book culture that arose in this peculiar Theodosian moment.

Lily Auchincloss/Samuel H. Kress Foundation/Helen M. Woodruff-Archaeological Institute of America Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (Year one of a two-year Fellowship)

Victoria C. Moses

PhD Candidate, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona
The Zooarchaeology of Early Rome: Meat Distribution and Urbanization (8th–6th Centuries BCE)

My dissertation uses zooarchaeological analysis (the study of animal bones from archaeological contexts) of five 8th–6th centuries BCE sites in and around Rome to investigate urbanization, power, and religion through access to meat in public and private spaces. During this Period, the food system in Rome and nearby urban centers would have been completely reorganized because of urbanization. At large-scale animal sacrifices, elites would have been tasked with providing the animals, thus establishing their status and using the food distribution as a form of social control. This research investigates the nature of these sacrifices as well as how meat reached private contexts during urbanization to understand the supply of meat in public and private settings as Rome formed. The sites include the Area Sacra di Sant'Omobono, the Regia, a small excavation at the Quirinal Hill, Veii, and Gabii.

Arthur Ross Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize

Sean Tandy

PhD Candidate, Department of Classical Studies, Indiana University
Carmina Qui Quondam: Poetry, Identity, and Ideology in Ostrogothic Italy

“Carmina qui quondam” argues that during the Ostrogothic Period (493–554 AD) the Roman elite in Italy utilized poetry both to maintain class cohesion and to exert political power. The dissertation utilizes major literary and historic sources from the period, such as the writings of Boethius and Cassiodorus, alongside shorter texts preserved in epigraphic and paleographic sources. I draw on this archive, as well as modern theories of identity and ideology derived from sociology and political science, to examine the ways in which the Roman elite utilized poetry to distinguish themselves from the newly arrived and ethnically distinct Gothic military elite. I argue that poetry functioned as a sign marking elite wealth, education, and connection with the Roman past; elites thus used poetry to promote their ideological agendas among competing aristocratic factions as well as within the Gothic military elite. Poetry in this light is a historical as well as literary phenomenon.

Architecture

Founders Rome Prize

Erin Besler

Lecturer, Department of Architecture and Urban Design, University of California, Los Angeles
Partner, Besler & Sons
Photo: Andy Scott
The Problem with the Corner Problem

Architecture is preoccupied by problems. The corner problem, the most exemplary of all of architecture’s problems, was born in Rome. While it is in fact the presence of a problem that foregrounds the discipline of architecture, architectural practice requires that problems are resolutely solved. Because architectural problems tend to be one of two kinds and this distinction decouples architecture and building, and theory and practice, it is imperative that we develop a way to work within this divide. My proposal is to document and retroactively fabricate model corners in Rome to track the appearance of their problems as the conflation of representational and construction conventions in architecture with an aim to developing a way of working between conceptual and practical problems. The result will be full scale mockups and interactive modeling apps using the perennial problem of the corner to level the playing field and engage new audiences in otherwise esoteric disciplinary concerns.

Frances Barker Tracy/Arnold W. Brunner/Katherine Edwards Gordon Rome Prize

Marcel Sanchez Prieto

Partner, CRO studio, San Diego and Tijuana
Professor, School of Architecture, Woodbury University
Divides

While in Rome I will explore architectural divides in the form of the portal, courtyard and stair. These architectural divides will be studied as liminal space: not as abrupt barriers, but as the transitional layering from public to private realms. The informal spaces that exist between buildings, the lowlands that are defined by surrounding hilltops, and the environments adjacent to and providing context for monuments will inform the project. To conduct the primary focus of my research, I will survey structures and access drawing archives of transitional spaces designed by Ferdinando Sanfelice in Naples as well as the divergent evolution of these forms in Naples and Rome. Architectural Divides proposes the scenic study of historic architectural elements developed within the framework of collaborative artistic research, video projection, installations and drawings to reveal these elements as the medium through which we see the politics of space.

Design

Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize

Dylan Fracareta

Design Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
The Trials

The American Academy in Rome offers a unique circumstance that encourages overlap and promotes collaboration among a wide range of creative disciplines. Graphic design operates in similar fashion, requiring and benefiting from conversations, input, evaluation, and the participation of different voices and skill sets. I’m looking to extend my institutional work with architects, artists, curators, and writers by participating in an environment structured to cultivate these familiar friendships. My aim is to leverage the Italian phase “la famiglia” and turn that into a platform for a design practice. This would have both a practical application—forming the basis of a studio practice—and serve as the meta- and content creation portion of the experience. The practical application would lead to a new model of working, while acting as a catalyst for an open-ended, visual output. This will be realized in the form of a: atlas, proposal, script, dossier, manual, or other form of documentation.

Mark Hampton Rome Prize

Amy Franceschini

Artist, San Francisco
Trust Me, Not if You Are Faint at Heart

Trust Me Not if You Are Faint at Heart is the title of a short film and book that serve as a backstory and visual identity for Radio Instabile, a migratory radio station based in a tree house in Abruzzo, Italy. It includes graphics, costumes and set design. Radio Instabile is an ongoing project that began in Abruzzo in 2015 in collaboration with the artist-in-residency program, Pollinaria any the collective I am part of, Futurefarmers. Radio Instablie is made up of a consortium of farmers / seed custodians committed to research, preserve, and share rare and ancient seeds of cereals. They consider seeds as their social media and are committed to radio as a tool to further broadcast their work. T.M.N. will look to early experiments in radio and broadcasting for inspiration, namely the work of Italian engineer, Guglielmo Marconi and the 1933, Italian Rural Radio Agency with the motto, "The village must have the radio." These two instances will provide a means of drawing upon history to project an alternative future.

 

Historic Preservation and Conservation

Booth Family Rome Prize

Joannie Bottkol

Conservator, Historic Architecture, Conservation and Engineering Center, NE Region, National Park Service
An Exploration of the Preservation of Roman Fascist Monuments

The current controversy over confederate monuments in the US has drawn my thinking to Rome. By studying the conservation and presentation of fascist works in Rome, from the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana to the Stadio dei Marmi, I want to explore the varying perspectives that define value in Roman fascist art and monuments. While museum conservators tend to value objects through the lens of artist’s intent, conservators of historic homes and house museums more often value the historical context of objects, and often communities do not agree about whether politically charged monuments have value as art, as history, or are devoid of value and should be stowed away. In Rome, fascist monuments are woven into the fabric of the city and cannot be as easily dismantled as our confederate monuments, and so there they stand, ready for study. I plan to look for the physical implications of changing narratives and values on monuments, such as alterations made to mask or modify original intent applied over time, and signs of maintenance or lack thereof. I want to research conservation documentation and have discussions with conservators and stakeholders to untangle past and present approaches to conservation, display, storage and didactics. And I hope to better understand the discourse between Roman conservators, political leaders, and the public regarding the preservation of Rome’s fascist monuments and the role of social justice issues in these discussions. I plan to share the outcomes of this project with the conservation community and beyond, and to use knowledge and insights gained during my time as an AAR community member and through my research to inform my future work.

Charles K. Williams II Rome Prize

Lori Wong

Project Specialist, Building and Sites, Getty Conservation Institute
Replicated Experiences Past and Present

Replicas of cultural-heritage sites have been created for many purposes: to serve didactic functions, allow visitors to experience heritage sites that are difficult to access, removed from their original location or closed for their protection, lost to time or destroyed by war, and now, increasingly, to serve as a documentary record in support of a site’s preservation.

Recent advances in three-dimensional capture, in rapid prototyping technologies, and in the acquisition of scientific data have led to a proliferation of replicated objects from cultural-heritage sites—in both digital and physical form. This revival in replica production can be attributed in large part to greater accessibility and affordability of such techniques as laser scanning, photogrammetry, digitally controlled milling, and three-dimensional printing, as well as scientific instrumentation that allows for advanced study of an object. The scale of replica creation in the twenty-first century and its general acceptance in the cultural-heritage field can be likened to the systematized production of plaster casts for museum collections during the industrial age.

My project explores how the replicas of the past can inform the replicas of today and what role technology plays in this. What values should a newly created replica embody as distinct from its original counterpart? How important is authenticity, accuracy, materiality, and craftsmanship in this? And, what happens to both the original and its replicated twin with the passage of time? Divergence is inevitable: How then does our interaction with replicas shift how we consider the original object, both now and in the future?

Looked at from the viewpoint of a conservator, I will study a wide range of facsimiles together with their original counterparts found throughout Italy—examples from antiquity to the present day—by documenting their respective histories and diverging paths. Ultimately, these investigations will provide an intellectual framework and means to better understand the longer term role that replication might play in cultural heritage.

Landscape Architecture

Garden Club of America Rome Prize

Zaneta Hong

Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia
Material Traceability

Architects and designers actively participate in the expansive reorganization of Earth’s matter and form. While the circumstances of these spatial interventions tend to manifest as isolated artifacts and environments, their material existence is generated from an entanglement of complex and interconnected ecologies from the microscopic to the planetary. My research will investigate the latent and hidden histories of natural stones and minerals used in Italian construction materials and methods, to better understand qualitative metrics applied in material performance assessments and sustainable design practices. By mapping the life cycle of select building materials from Carrara marble to pozzolanic ash, each of these material agents will be traced from their source of origin to final construction site – in an event to understand how specific materials have shaped and been shaped by unique cultural geographies and emergent technologies.

Prince Charitable Trusts/Kate Lancaster Brewster Rome Prize

Michael James Saltarella

Associate, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Deviant Landscapes: Irregularity and the Formal Garden

Landscapes do many things for us, but perhaps their greatest power is the emotional presence they bring to our lives. Contemporary design practice seems to favor a notion of landscape function that has been decoupled from the human psyche. I would like to investigate how the interplay between the classical and the irregular in Renaissance gardens contributed to an emotional complexity within these works, and how the grotesque representational style helped to balance classical order within the formal garden. Landscapes today are supposed to “function” and “perform,” and there is not much talk of monsters or emotions. I would like to immerse myself in the contradictions of the classical and the grotesque in countless gardens throughout Italy and Rome itself. It’s unlikely that the material expression of pleasure and peril would be the same, but I would like to find new ways to keep the deviant urge alive.

Literature

John Guare Writer's Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman

Kirstin Valdez Quade

Assistant Professor, Program in Creative Writing, Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University
Photo: Maggie Shipstead
Untitled Novel

This untitled novel is set in the fictional small town of Las Peñas in contemporary northern New Mexico. The novel centers on three characters: Amadeo Padilla, an unemployed ne’er-do-well who is part of a community of Catholic penitentes (men whose worship includes self-flagellation and physical suffering), his teenage daughter Angel, who gives birth to her first child, and his mother Yolanda, who discovers that she is dying of brain cancer. The novel spans the baby’s first year, as all three characters struggle to parent children they do not feel equipped to save.

Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust

Bennett Sims

Visiting Assistant Professor, Iowa Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa
Untitled Novel

With the support of the Rome Prize, I will continue work on a new novel-in-progress. Like my first novel, A Questionable Shape, it is set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and it explores the conscious experience of addiction, novelty, memory, and desire. 

Medieval Studies

Donald and Maria Cox/Samuel H. Kress Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (Year two of a two year fellowship)

Anna Majeski

PhD Candidate, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Visualizing the Cosmos from Fourteenth-Century Padua: From Francesco da Barberino to Giusto de’Menabuoi

A judge in late medieval Padua would have passed sentence amidst an extraordinary display of astrological knowledge. In the great Salone of the Palazzo della Ragione, three hundred and nineteen images of the planets, constellations, and their influences on humankind adorned the walls, crowned by a vast ceiling painted blue and dotted with gilded, mirror-studded stars. Originally painted between 1309–12 by Giotto, the frescoes were damaged by fire in 1420 and subsequently repainted. Nonetheless, the Salone cycle is the most extensive astrological cycle produced in late medieval Italy—a multivalenced response to the challenge of visualizing the cosmos, produced at the nexus of art, science, and politics. Among the most compelling precursors are fresco cycles produced for the papal court at Rome. The content of the Salone is heir to the thirteenth-century revival and reorganization of the discipline of astrology, in which images played an important role. Giotto’s frescoes, I contend, are both a summa and a critical rethinking of the astrological image as a form of knowledge. I will advance a reconstruction of the fourteenth-century cycle and explore the varied ways in which the Salone contributes to our understanding of the power of the image ca. 1300.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize

Austin Powell

PhD Candidate, Department of History, Catholic University of America
Charisma, Community, and Authority: Dominican Epistolary Practice in Italy, 1300–1500

My dissertation investigates how the letters and practices of letter-writing of certain fourteenth and fifteenth-century Dominicans served as vehicles for the authors’ charismatic or divinely inspired authority. These letters were not private correspondences but were a public literature which copyists bound repeatedly into manuscripts. The majority of these correspondences were letters of spiritual direction addressed to penitent women. In many cases, copyists bound these letters with those of St. Jerome of Stridon, which were also addressed to women. I suggest that this practice of letter writing and binding was intended to model the Dominican authors’ saintly authority in imitation of Jerome’s, thereby speaking to both the Observant and Humanist movements’ efforts to engage with a more perfect ancient past. With the support of the Rome Prize, I plan to pursue manuscript research in Roman libraries to study the letters within their manuscript contexts, examining marginal notations, rubbed parchment from frequent use, and what other texts were bound with the letters within a given manuscript. In this way, I aim to investigate how Italians related to these letters as physical objects, how they used them to shape their communal identities, and pursue religious and cultural reform.

Millicent Mercer Johnsen Post-Doctoral Rome Prize

John F. Romano

Associate Professor, Department of History, Benedictine College
Tolerance of Liturgical Diversity in Medieval Europe

The subject of my investigation will be the widespread acceptance of a variety of forms of Christian worship in medieval Western Europe beyond those performed or approved by the pope, even by those who would never have accepted a range of doctrines. To examine this issue, I cast a wide net on sources, starting with authoritative late antique authors like Augustine (354–430) and extending to late medieval thinkers like William Durandus (ca. 1230–96). Many papal letters that are essential to the argument must be consulted in manuscripts in Rome and Italy more generally. Most intellectuals tolerated others' worship, and the standards generated for what must be included in normative liturgy were minimal. This attitude extended to the papacy, which held that Christians should be unified through the same doctrines and structures of authority, not the same worship. The research is intended to nuance the view of medieval Europe as an oppressive "persecuting society" when applied to religious practice.

Modern Italian Studies

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Rome Prize

Franco Baldasso

Assistant Professor of Italian and Director of the Italian Studies Program, Division of Languages and Literature, Bard College
Against Redemption: Literary Dissent during the Transition from Fascism to Democracy in Italy

The post-Fascist transition is arguably the most controversial period in Modern Italian history and culture. My book project is the first to focus on the intellectual fluidity of the 1943-48 early postwar era, illustrating how pre-war worldviews were not completely discredited and new ideological oppositions were not clearly defined. Against Redemption restores the transition’s full picture, in which the cultural and the literary were key battlefields for political hegemony. I contend that dissenting voices such as Moravia, Brancati, Morante, Carlo Levi and Malaparte contested the narratives of national redemption promoted by Communist and Christian Democrats by disputing the commonplace of Italy’s moral rebirth after Fascism. I am applying to the Rome Prize 2018 to revise my manuscript and write a new chapter, titled “Ghosts of a Recent Past: Rome after the Liberation,” which retraces the capital’s extraordinary intellectual atmosphere following the August 1944 liberation.

Marian and Andrew Heiskell Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellowship

Jim Carter

PhD Candidate, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan
Communities of Labor: Adriano Olivetti and the Redemption of Modernity

My research explores the relationship between labor and community in twentieth-century Italy by focusing closely on the industrial "utopia" of Adriano Olivetti. Labor and community have been tied together throughout the course of modern European and US history, and their recent undoing has generated a set of social anxieties that my work seeks to address in historical perspective. During my tenure at the American Academy in Rome I will be examining and analyzing cultural magazines, political treatises and archival documentation that tell the story of Adriano Olivetti's early response to the challenges of modernity.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize

Alessandra Ciucci

Assistant Professor, Department of Music, Columbia University
Resonances of the Rural across the Mediterranean: Music, Sound, and Migrant Moroccan Men in Italy

This project explores the significance of a specific notion of l-‘arubiya (the rural) and its role in sound among migrant Moroccan men in Italy. I posit that the sound of l-‘arubiya questions the very notion of what it means to be Mediterranean, rendering these migrants audible. The project thinks critically about discourses concerning l-‘arubiya as a socio-acoustic practice that is deeply compelling for Moroccan migrant men crossing the Mediterranean to Italy. It is an inquiry into the role of the sound of l-‘arubiya in the lives of these migrants and, to this end, I focus on two musico-poetic genres which embody such a notion of the rural: ‘aita and ‘abidat rma. This project is ultimately concerned with a complex geography of space, with the dialectical relationship between the colonial and the postcolonial Mediterranean, tradition and modernity, the rural and the marine, the Moroccan countryside and the Mediterranean—and how these dialectics emerge through l-‘arubiya in sound.

Musical Composition

Elliott Carter Rome Prize

Michelle Lou

Visiting Lecturer, Department of Music, Dartmouth College
Hybrid Performance System

I plan to develop a hybrid analog/digital feedback live performance system. Live signals from modular synths, hacked instruments, CV controlled variable speed tape players and live instrumentalists are sent into software created in the MaxMSP programming language. These signals are processed digitally and then fed back out into the modular synth for further processing. Tactile controllers will be built using OSC, as well as hardware devices utilizing sensors for finger pressure as touch control. This system will be what I will use to improvise with, to compose and perform with and to create long form installation pieces.

Luciano Berio Rome Prize

Jessie Marino

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Sound, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Live Performance Project - “The Vanity of Small Differences”

My project as a Rome Prize Fellow will be creating a new work of interdisciplinary music for and with the violinist Winnie Huang titled “the vanity of small differences.” The work created will find itself situated between the genres of opera, dance, and installation art aiming to answer the question: What happens to the body’s ability to communicate when subjected to musically constructed parameters of time? We train our bodies and voices from the first moments of our human existence. We are all experts at our everyday negotiations of physical and emotional space. Our bodies have remarkably communicative capabilities which are both consciously and unconsciously transmitted—in addition, we muddle and mix in language as an agreed upon method of conveying an apparent truth to the ways our bodies may be communicating. How, then, can we create musical performances which use these conventions of body, voice, and time, while obscuring and abstracting their entrained meaning to create a new style of perception.

Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Anthony M. Clark/Samuel H. Kress Foundation Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize

Talia Di Manno

PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley
Christian Archaeology in Rome: The Early Church Reborn and New Empiricism of the Sacred, 1592–1644

Christian antiquities emerged at the forefront of Roman intellectual and cultural life between 1592 and 1644 thanks to new methods for studying ancient Christian objects, bodies, and spaces, sensationalized discoveries, and patronage of digs which publicized finds by restoring churches, hosting processions, and publishing texts. My dissertation argues that a set of under-studied discoveries linked to the Barberini in the 1620s and 1630s—the body of Pope Caius excavated from the catacombs; bodies under the altars of Santa Bibiana, Santi Quattro Coronati, and Santa Martina; and early oratories that supposedly belonged to Pope Sylvester, and Paul and Luke—marked a crucial moment in Rome when the empirical sciences merged with the apologetic and political aims of papal families to align themselves with places associated with the early church. I examine how digs were workshops for co-opting scientific discourse, and testing conceptions of “authenticity” and “proof” in the early modern era.

Phyllis W. G. Gordan/National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Rome Prize

Denis J.-J. Robichaud

Assistant Professor, Program of Liberal Studies, University of Notre Dame
Marsilio Ficino Editions Project

In 1484, the Florentine humanist and philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) published the first complete translation of Plato, but his Greek to Latin translations of Iamblichus’s (a Syrian who lived c. 245-325 CE) De secta Pythagorica and Theon of Smyrna’s (fl. first century CE) Mathematica remain unprinted. They were thought lost before P. O. Kristeller identified their manuscripts, have not been studied extensively, and many recent studies still ignore their existence. I have been editing these texts during the past three summers and will print them for the first time with the Ficinus Novus series of Nino Aragno Editore (Turin). My editions will include a book-length study of four topics: (i) Greek to Latin translations of philosophy in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; (ii) the development of Ficino’s translations; (iii) their place in Ficino’s oeuvre and the history of philosophy; and (iv) a study of the fortune of these works in the Renaissance, especially in scholarly, artistic, and religious communities in Florence and Rome. Ficino’s translations of these texts are the first reintroduction of the largest ancient corpus of Pythagoreanism in the Renaissance.

Visual Arts

Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize

Michael Ray Charles

Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Painting, School of Art, University of Houston
Images of the blacks and crocodiles

Largely known for his studies of black people in the ancient world, Dr. Frank Snowden, asserted that large numbers of slaves in the empire were white; while, large numbers of the blacks were thought to be warriors, statesmen, and mercenaries not slaves. While a noteworthy perspective that is not necessarily represented in the art produced about blacks by others. Among many other themes he assessed, the images of the black and crocodiles appeared to be a popular motif referenced in wall murals, sculptures, tile mosaics and other forms. Essential to my intellectual and creative interest in the region are the Roman mosaics, erotica frescos, and wall murals. I plan to visit The House of the Neptunes Roman mosaic, that depict Pygmies and Cranes, and crocodiles located in the city of Italica, Spain, and the erotic tile mosaics and murals from the caldarium entrance in the House of Menander. I will, produce work informed by these works of art and architecture in Italy.

Abigail Cohen Rome Prize

Sze Tsung Nicolás Leong

Photographer, Los Angeles
. . . Urbis et Orbis Idem

I plan to make expansive photographs of Rome and cities throughout Italy. My approach would be topological, in the sense of making visually abundant and dense pictures; and also one of making the familiar strange, by looking for perspectives that take us away from the street-level views we see every day toward unfamiliar elevated views we rarely see—a shift to a more encompassing view, where we can see our environments as a whole, gain perspective above our normal limits, and make sense of our place in the larger world. I see this work as part of my larger ongoing project to create a picture of the world through its cities. Rome and Italian cities would add a crucial perspective to this global picture. Rome is one of the first world cities—the original Caput Mundi (Capital of the World). In many ways, in order to understand the world’s cities, it is necessary to understand Rome. As Ovid wrote: Romanae spatium est urbis et orbis idem—the world and the city of Rome occupy the same space.

Nancy B. Negley Rome Prize

Karyn Olivier

Program Head and Associate Professor, Department of Sculpture, Tyler School of Art, Temple University
Histories Converse

I plan to study various forms of public art in Rome and its surrounds—talking statues, monuments, piazzas and ruins. I will identify and concentrate on 10-20 public works/sites over the eleven-month fellowship and create a proposal or prototype that is in conversation with the original. For each, I will make a model. These models will take different forms—fabricated sculpture, installation, 2D image, prose or a video piece—and will function as finished artworks. In addition, I will create a book that includes reproductions and documentation of the models and my research. This book of propositions—imagined public art—will feature projects that will likely never be realized. It will function as an art object, journal, recorder and idiosyncratic map of the Eternal City. I'll also explore the uphill battle of realizing one of my propositions and create an ephemeral event or temporary work that is in conversation with an original site.

Jules Guerin/Harold M. English/Miss Edith Bloom Fund Rome Prize

Helen O’Leary

Professor of Art, School of Visual Arts, Pennsylvania State University
Safe House

In recent years, I have reenvisioned my stitched-together paintings less as pure deconstructions and more as containers, as metaphoric “safe houses” for other objects. In Rome, I plan to make a series of collapsible paintings, large constructions that can fold into themselves and out again. Much like a traveling merchant, I will construct a portable show that can switch from the pragmatic into an expanded magnificence of constructions. These works will draw from the history and aesthetics of reliquaries, and other ornate “housing” structures. In addition to reliquaries, I hope to study the display of more pedestrian valuables, such as the hoarded objects of contemporary Italian street vendors displayed in portable shops in the market. I want my paintings to carry the feeling of the portable and collapsable, of something valuable that can be secreted away at a moment’s notice. I want to study how sacred objects are displayed and protected in Rome in churches, crypts, and markets.

Jesse Howard, Jr./Henry W. and Marian T. Mitchell Rome Prize

Basil Twist

Artistic Director, Dream Music Puppetry Program, HERE Arts Center, New York
Eros Anima

Eros Anima is to be a visual performance piece continuing many years of my explorations of abstraction in puppetry, and bringing this work into a new a level of nobility of materials and sensuality of expression with the explicit influence of postwar Italian artistic trends such as Arte Povera and Spatialism. I am seeking a fellowship at the American Academy of Rome to steep myself in the work of artists such as Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani, and Agostino Bonalumi, among others, and to learn from and appreciate the context that gave rise to their work. The resulting piece will be a uniquely intimate experience with live music at home in both performance venues or visual art galleries.