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Students curate professional-level CFAM exhibit

Italian drawings, participants to be featured on virtual panel 

The Cornell Fine Arts Museum (CFAM) is displaying a student-curated exhibit that showcases drawings by Italian art masters. Drawing Connections: Inside the Minds of Italian Masters is on display from Feb. 2 – May 9 and is curated entirely by students. 

Students of the art history major taking the Museum Practicum course designed the exhibit under the guidance of their professor, Dr. Kimberly Dennis. The artworks are on loan from the home collection of John Mica, a supporter of the museum. The exhibit ranges from 16th to 19th-century works, all originating from Italy. 

The art featured in the show includes artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Guido Greene. 

Students were able to write the extended labels–explanatory paragraphs that give insight into artworks–for the exhibit. They also designed the exhibit’s layout, choosing titles, subheadings, fonts, and wall colors. 

Konnor Ross (‘21), art history major, is one the curators of the exhibit. 

“We worked on didactics and decided together our organization of the drawings and the overall narrative of our exhibition,” said Ross.

The Italian artists used drawings as blueprints to study subjects such as the body, architecture, and more. The importance of highlighting drawings is to show an audience, who may not have prior knowledge of the piece, the process of creating works like paintings, architecture, and sculptures.

“The birth of a lot of modern techniques used today, like perspective and shading, and the understanding of human anatomy, came from Italian practices of drawing,” said Ross.

The purpose of the course is to teach students museum practices, expose them to museum careers, and introduce them to the factors that go into curating an art exhibit. 

Each student chose one art piece to focus and perform original research on. Throughout the semester, the students discussed their pieces and compared them to one another. They also had to write a condition report on their drawings, keeping track of the physical condition and structure of the work.

“The curation process is a lot of research and writing, but it also involves making decisions about the narrative and the argument of an exhibition, which we got to do together as a class,” said Ross. 

On Mar. 19 at 11 a.m., the Drawing Connections: Inside the Minds of Italian Masters exhibition will be featured on a virtual panel on Facebook, and some of the art history majors from Dennis’ 400 level class, Dennis herself, and Dr. Gisela Carbonell will be featured. 

The panel will focus on the behind-the-scenes workings of the exhibit, and some of the students will have a chance to share their experiences of curating the exhibition. Reservations to visit the exhibit can be made on CFAM’s Admission website.

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