Category Archives: Art Attack

Finding a happy thought when it seems like there isn’t going to be one is my happy thought

Today was not exactly happy. I woke up, took a test, finished my last paper for my child lit class, then went to my last Domesticating the Wild in Children’s Literature class ever. So. Sad. I don’t know what I’m going to do next semester without it. I mean, I’m creating an Independent Study with this professor, so I’ll still be working with her, but it was still so sad.

Then I came home and found this on my google reader!

It’s a collaboration of a six-year-old and his father. Lovely. If I had extra money to keep buying prints, it would be the next thing coming in the mail.


Also, a resident gave me a tangerine on the elevator. Another happy thought.


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Surprising myself is my happy thought

So if you had asked me yesterday if I would ever consider putting prints of animals on blank backgrounds up in my apartment, I would have given you a decisive hell no.

But then I stumbled across these:

And I can’t stop fantasizing about putting them up in a row next to the coziest chair in my room to keep me company while I read.

Or mixing this gem in with the multitude of pictures I have up of my family and friends next to my bed.

Breathtaking, aren’t they? Find them at The Animal Print Shop. (Un)luckily for me, they’re have a 4 for 3 sale for the small prints this week. We’ll see if I can stay strong and not give in to the temptation. I’m not happy that I’ll be pining after these prints for the next forever or so, but I am happy that I can surprise myself so thoroughly!

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So NYU in Florence is super cool and gives the art history classes a budget for three days of field trips, meaning my Renaissance Art class took a one-day trip to Venice and a two-day, overnight trip to Rome! My class has about 15 people in it, so with us, the teacher, and our trip coordinator, we came out to 18 people (I guess that means my class has 16 people in it…). We got to stay in a super nice hotel, which was a welcome break from all the hostelling I’ve been doing, and had a HUGE free breakfast in the morning! Seriously some of the best pastries I’ve had in Europe. I’ve recently discovered a love of marmalade in my brioches after accidentally ordering it in Naples one morning.

Anyways, it was a long couple of days. We met at the train station to go to Rome at 7:50 am on Friday, then dropped off our bags in our hotel before immediately starting our tour. We saw the Pantheon, several churches, did a quick walking tour of Rome, and went inside two separate villas. Honestly it’s all pretty much a blur.

The Pantheon

Saturday we were at the Vatican Museum by 8:30 AM, winding our way through the huge lines. Thankfully NYU in Florence paid for our group reservations everywhere, so we never had to wait longer than about ten minutes, marching past all the poor people that had been in line for about an hour already at that point. My flash of guilt disappeared as soon as I thought about the tuition check my parents had sent out at the beginning of the semester. Seriously, NYU in Florence does such a better job at using their resources for the students. We get free museum passes, tons of day trips and activities to help us understand and participate in Florence, field days, speakers coming from all of the world…I understand that NYU in New York has a lot more students and has responsibilities all over the world, but the money they receive is proportionally more as well. Part of their supposed mission is to incorporate New York City into their student’s education, but they don’t make an effort to actively engage us in the city. They leave it all up to the students, and we do a good job of it, but I think they could do better, especially after being a part of the awesome NYU in Florence program, I wish JSex would swallow his pride and realize he could learn a little bit from the Florence President, David Travis. Who, by the way, has come into three out of four of my classes this semester to say hi and ask how we like the class. I’ve never even seen JSex in the Gallatin building, let alone interacting with the students.

Ok. Rant over. Back to Rome.

Saturday. Vatican Museum. The Sistine Chapel for the second time in my life. I definitely recognize how amazing it is that this was my second time viewing this incredible room, when most people will never get to see it in person at all. We spent so long in there, which was lovely as I can barely remember the first time I was there. This time I had a Renaissance Art PhD with me to tell me all about it, too. Amazing. After the museum we went into the Basilica to see the Pieta by Michelangelo.

We saw the Pieta when I was there when I was ten, and I remember thinking it was the most beautiful statue I have ever seen. After the trip ended, though, I could never remember where I saw it or if it was even real, so when the slide came up in my class a few weeks ago, it was pretty much the most exciting thing that has happened to me all semester. I’m not exaggerating. A work of art that really touched my soul when I was ten, that I then could remember so vaguely I thought it was a dream, turned out to be real. Not only real, but in Rome, and I was going to get to see it again. It was an incredible feeling.

St. Peter's Basilica

All the chairs still set up from Easter

My awesome class!

After the Basilica (btw, did you know if the building is called a basilica, it’s because it houses the ashes of a Saint?), we had lunch, then saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and other really old stuff that used to be pagan and has seen been hastily turned catholic. At about 5 we returned to the hotel, where I hung out with my class until they left on the train. I then walked from that lovely place to my hostel, back to reality with six beds in the room and no mirror in the bathroom.

But staying an extra day gave me a chance to meet Lisa by the Trevi Fountain that night, where we ate dinner and debated for about ten minutes which shoulder to throw our pennies over. I think we chose to throw with the right hand over the left shoulder. The next day Lisa got up early to see a bunch of the stuff I had seen with my class and I headed to the Caravaggio exhibit in Rome. It’s been big news, as about ninety percent of his few masterpieces are all in the same building right now, which never happens in case the building catches fire or something. The show was incredible, though crowded and full of very pushy, large men who didn’t mind literally pushing me out of the way with their hands in order to place their large girth in front of a painting, then profess loudly that Caravaggio must have been gay. No joke.

Also, the Disney Store, Roman style

I met Lisa at the Spanish steps for lunch (which btw, apparently Romans do not call the Spanish steps. I asked a policewoman where the Spanish steps were, but in Italian, and she literally couldn’t answer me because she was laughing so hard. Rude, and also made me so self conscious about my Italian that I asked the next police officer I found in English.), then spent several hours just walking around the city. It was nice to be back in an actual city, big enough that I was able to get myself good and lost just to wander before finding my way back to the train station.

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Greece is the word: Athens

At about 2 PM on Saturday, Lisa and I arrived in Athens. We got to the city center after a somewhat long subway ride, during which I was almost pickpocketed but my insane pickpocket perception prowess aided me in grabbing the guy’s hand as it was in my purse and throwing him across the train into a pile of rubble. No, all I did was remove his hand, glare meanly at him, and move my purse to the other side, zipping it again. If I were in New York I would have pulled out the yelling, swear words, physical violence, and made a scene, but all I can say in Greek is thank you (ah-reef-kah-stoh phonetically) and I didn’t think thank you was an appropriate word choice at that moment so I remained calm. Actually, I’ve never had anyone attempt to pickpocket me in New York or even make me feel like they might want to pickpocket me.

ANYWAYS we found our hotel off a dreamy little side street next to a church and explored the Plaka area (old town) until Hayley arrived. That night we went to a restaurant recommended to us by a person who worked for a different restaurant (Greeks are honest, I guess) and had the best. feta. cheese. ever.

I’m not a particular fan of feta. Unless we keep our contact time brief, we usually don’t get along, but in Greece I found myself eating it by the spoonful every single day. My mouth is watering. Then we tried Moussaka, which is a traditional dish of the greeks that kind of reminded me of lasagna without pasta, and to the Cloyd girl fam, reminded me of Shepherd’s Pie but with meat. Not really my thing, as it turns out.

Then the next day, we walked about 10 minutes and saw:

Gah! Can you believe it!? And since it was low season, it was free!

Usually this is the part when I would divulge some sort of academic information to prove to my parents that I’m not just running around Europe sampling different wine, beer, cheese, and pastries (which actually, sometimes feels a little like what I AM doing. Btw, had the best baklava in Greece. BEST. Am considering special ordering for my nonexistant far-off wedding and replacing wedding cake with baklava), but there is just too much about the Acropolis to even try. In ten words or less: Ancient evolving meeting place destroyed and rebuilt, for the gods. Even that tells you nothing! But read about it here and be amazed.

That afternoon we went to the New Acropolis Museum (no photos, please) which just opened last summer! It’s organized chronologically so you walk through and learn how and when the different buildings of the Acropolis were built and why, alongside some pretty awesome archeological finds, of course. It was sad to see all the plaster molds everywhere of all the important artifacts that the British Museum has, and while I was there I was definitely like “Hey! Give it back to Greece!” But what about all the people who would never have seen any of it if it wasn’t in Britain? On the same note, I’m glad the French gave back most of the art they stole from the Italians (well, the Italians went and physically got it, but this was back when that was actually plausible if you had a big enough scary guy on your side). In the end, I think the Britains will most likely never give back the artifacts they have from Greece, as it would seriously diminish the British Museum’s claim to fame, but I would be glad if they did. Anways, amazing museum. Definitely a favorite moment of the trip. Plus, since Lisa and I are EU students right now, it was free! (Are you sensing a trend?)

The NEXT day, after another great dinner and free dessert cause we’re awesome, we meant to go see the rest of the Acropolis buildings and the Ancient Agora but got sidetracked.

We climbed up a random hill and found yet another view of the Acropolis!

We found an Alice in Wonderland/Narnia gate and Lisa checked it out

We creeped on Greek houses that we found randomly on the random hill.

We also only have half a day because we had spent the morning figuring out our travel situation for our next day adventure to Paros (coming soon).

AFTER our return from said island, though, on the very last morning of our trip. Hayley and I go up super early to go see some last minute monuments before taking off.

The Ancient Agora

Theater of Dionysus

The Temple of the Olympian Zeus

After that we hurried over into Plaka so I could by myself some Greek silver! I read before I went that Athens is the place to buy jewelry and it really is. Pretty little spiral posts (meaning life is never ending in Greek symbology), silver for 5 euro? Intricate hoops in a geometric patter meaning the same thing for 15? And a beautiful hammered necklace pendant as well. So awesome. Then off to the airport to fly back to Italy!

Coming soon: Paros and Santorini interlude!

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Art Attack! Botticelli

A couple days ago I went to the Uffizi Gallery with my Figure Drawing class in order to spend a couple hours drawing hands, feet, and faces from the paintings in the gallery. The point is that sometimes it’s easier to first learn how to draw a 2-dimensional drawing from other 2-dimensional objects rather than draw a 2-dimensional drawing from a 3-dimensional human being standing in front of you.

Anyway, throughout my wandering through the Uffizi, I stumbled upon Botticelli’s Spring and The Birth of Venus.

The Birth of Venus


This was a big moment for me. I’ve been seeing these pieces all my life in art classes, books…everywhere! I distinctly remember looking at that blue guy (Zephyr) when I was about eight years old and being really freaked out. He’s a scary dude. Seeing these for the first time is comparable to…actually, I’m not sure what it’s comparable to. It’s not even really comparable to seeing a famous city for the first time, because that city is the sum of all it’s years of growth and decay, while a work of art was simply created, and has since been slowly decaying. It was created by one person (usually) with great care and devotion. That alone is enough to make works of art worthwhile, but once you see something like “The Birth of Venus” in person, there is another whole layer there. In a print it’s impossible to see the brushstrokes and detail that Botticelli applied to his works. You can’t see the flakes of pigment that have come off and the preparatory colors underneath. It’s incredible. And it’s all right here in Florence.

(Also, a brief foray into actually looking at them: can you tell they’re both by the same artist? Look at the way the women are shaped and distorted, and the way the people relate to the background. They don’t exactly float on top of it, but they aren’t interacting with it much either.)

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