Venice Biennale


On November 5-6th, we took an academic trip to one of the most beautiful places in Italy, Venice. In Venice, we visited one of the most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions, La Biennale, which includes the fine arts, film, architecture, music, performance, and more.

We split up into two groups when we got there, both included guided tours around the various pavilions. Our tour-guides were very insightful, as they explained the artists’ outlooks and artworks. My group started our tour in the British pavilion where we got to enjoy a delicious cup of tea on the building’s balcony. After touring around a few other pavilions, we were let to explore the grounds of the Biennale on our own.

There were artists from all over the world, from Europe, to South America, to Asia, many of which are very different from each other, however they all really captivated the essence of their countries’ traditions.

The Biennale is definitely an event to attend if you want to a universal collection of contemporary artwork. It was a good break from all the Renaissance Italian art that we’ve been seeing.

There’s no place like Venice…

When I stepped on the streets of Venice I looked around expecting to see a little brown brindle cairn terrier, named Toto, appear so I could tell him I didn’t think we were in Florence anymore.  In Venice there isn’t a car in sight and the closest thing to ‘American hospitality’ was a McDonald’s that didn’t have a single picture of the famous golden arches.  Walking the streets of Venice at night is a magical thing. The city becomes nearly deserted, hardly any boats are running and the best thing I heard was… pure silence.  I have yet to find a city that can come close to the majestic allure of Venice.

As a young girl I dreamt of living in the era of corsets, petticoats, powder wigs and handmade lace. I guess you could say I almost lived that dream.  Cannaregio 2590 is home to Nicolao Atelier. From the front it looks like a small everyday costume shop but once through the doors, it turns into a wonderland of Rococo and Baroque decor.

All The Fashion Design Students we taught about 17th – 18th century attire by Stefano Nicolao (the owner and designer) who chose one lucky young student to model a corset and petticoat for us. Mr. Nicolao’s costumes have been seen in Casanova and Pirates of the Caribbean to name a few movies and have been in many theatrical performances.  We were able to see his studio and costume inventory.  It seemed like the costumes ran on for miles. As a hopeful future fashion designer, it was better than waking up on Christmas morning to presents under the tree. I could have spent a good day at Nicolao Atelier, but we soon had to rush away from trying on tri-corner hats and masks to go take a trip on a gondola. I would have never been able to see such amazing textiles or costumes if it hadn’t been for The Fashion Institute of Technology’s Study Abroad Program. Thank you F.I.T.

Ca’ Macana Mask Making

The first thing that pops up in my head when I think of Venice is masks and gondolas. We (FIT in Florence) recently took an academic trip to Venice where we had the opportunity to make our very own masks! Buying a mask is great, but I think making your own mask is even more special. We ended our second day in Venice at Ca’ Macana Mask Studio, where we learned about the history of Venetian masks, then  FITSA (FIT Student Activities) organized an event to participate in the actual mask making!

Bauta mask

Blank masks ready to be painted!

Before painting their masks!

FIT study abroad Director Sass Brown working hard on her mask!

Chohye working on her mask!

Erica's mask in progress!

Finished masks at sunset

Wouldn’t it be a great idea to go back to wearing masks on a daily basis and doing whatever you wanted, without anyone knowing you did it? These masks didn’t only hide your identity and social status, but gave you freedom! The anonymity that these masks offered, allowed for interactions within different societies without judgments being made. Think about all the criminal and immoral activities that people probably engaged in, which is why these masks are only worn during Carnivale now. But now we have original masks to take to Carnivale next semester (Spring 2012) for those wanting to participate! I’ll definitely be making my way back for sure!

A Venetian Trip to Remember

In one of the last hurrahs of the season, FIT in Florence took its last academic field trip of the semester to Venice Italy. After arriving by private coach in the in the morning, and checking into our hotel, our first stop was a tour of St. Marks Basilica. This cathedral contained beautiful gilded walls and domes. After, we continued to the Fortuny Museum, which is an important and very respectable art museum in Venice. The museum contains fashion, paintings, and the infamous Fortuny lamps.

The next day was by far my favorite. We started in Murano, and were given a very interesting demonstration on how Murano Glass is blown. The pieces were beautiful, and I purchased quite a few as souvenirs. After a short lunch, we continued to Nicalao Atellier, where we were able to view many of the costumes produced for movies, as well as get an introduction to Renaissance Venetian dress. For a relaxing end to a long day, we finished by going to a FIT Student Activities (FITSA) event at the Ca’ Macana Mask Studio. We were first taught about the history of masks, and then allowed to decorate our own, something I found quite rewarding.

Our trip concluded with a trip to the Biennele Art Exhibition. This museum contained art featured in “pavilions” set up by different countries. In a way it reminded me of a cross between Epcot and the MOMA, but was still one of the best sights of the trip. Overall, I found our trip to Venice to be excellent mid-semester relaxation while still allowing me to feel like I saw the important sights of the city. I will absolutely be back for the Venetian Carnevale.