Sicilian Craft + Design
1 February 2018
The Global Education Office and the VCU School of the Arts, in collaboration with Accademia di belle arti Rosario Gagliardi - MADE Program, are pleased to offer a multidisciplinary, study-abroad program in Sicily, Italy during the summer of 2018. The Sicily Fieldwork Studio and Italian Craft & Design will explore Italian historical and contemporary design, architecture, tradition, and craft through architectural drawing, field sketching, and hands-on workshops. Specific workshop topics include clay, sculpture, dye-making and application, interior design and architecture, weaving, and pattern-making. Through this combination of seeing, drawing, and experiencing, this program strives to offer students a comprehensive understanding of how these practices have evolved and continue to relate to one another.
Course and Credit Options
- IDES 391: Sicily Fieldwork Studio, 3 credits, Emily Smith
- IDES 391: Italian Craft + Design, 3 credits Hillary Fayle
- IDES 692: Independent Study, 3 credits, Emily Smith
- IDES 692: Independent Study, 3 credits, Hillary Fayle
Students will receive transfer credit for all coursework completed in this program, eliminating the need to pay VCU’s per-credit tuition rate and the Arts tuition differential. This saves an in-state, undergraduate Arts student more than $3,000 for a six-credit summer program.
In order to receive credit, students must earn the equivalent of a C or better.
These courses are meant to work in conjunction with each other, each sustaining and reinforcing the importance and relevance of the other. They will seamlessly blend into one experience, providing a framework for hands-on learning and self-reflection.
Sicily Fieldwork Studio (3 undergraduate credits)
“To be schooled in drawing, and to carry the lessons learned from it throughout a lifetime of creating art, involves a constant questioning of the world of appearances and things. It requires a willingness to meet with a person or an object halfway, to get outside of oneself if only for a moment, and to convey that experience to another person through marks made on a flat surface. It also attests to the beauty that can be elicited when such a project is undertaken with diligence, receptivity, a sense of history, a modicum of talent and luck.”
Hand-drawing is an invaluable skill to any artist or designer. The Sicily Fieldwork Studio will provide students with the opportunity to observe their surroundings and translate those observations into drawings. This will take a different form for each student but this portion of the program will give them time and instruction to hone these drawing skills and deeply examine details around them. Students will receive guidance and direction as well as constructive feedback from instructors and peers. This course will be based in Siracusa and extend into the surroundings areas of Sicily. The skills acquired in this course are intended to change the way students feel about drawing and seeing; ultimately strengthening the relationship between them.
Italian Craft & Design (3 undergraduate credits)
Sicily is an island where the culture of craft and making has been uniquely preserved and celebrated. There is a rich history that is understood by analyzing the art and design. From the traditions of terracotta to the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the region's makers and designers are widely respected for their mastery, tradition, and innovation.
With so much to experience, the Italian Craft & Design course will specifically focus on sites and topics that both provide detailed explorations and broader understandings. Sites will include renowned museums, galleries, studios, and landscapes. Topics will include sculpture, painting, weaving, architecture, interior design, graphic design, and cultural sustainability. Students will be exposed to the practices and processes of other artists and designers while being encouraged to examine and grow their own. These examinations will be supported by visits to local studios where they can observe artists and designers at work.
Florence Fieldwork Studio and Italian Craft & Design (Independent Study) (6 graduate credits)
This graduate-level course provides graduate students with the opportunity to use the curriculum provided by these courses as a scaffolding for their own research.
School of the Arts students in good standing with a healthy appreciation for art, design, craft, and culture are encouraged to apply. Basic knowledge of hand-drawing and making skills will be helpful. The coursework will require students to engage in individual work and group exercises. Preference will be given to rising juniors, seniors, and second-year graduate students. This program is open to non-VCU students.
An academic letter of reference is not required.
Accommodations and Meals
Students will be housed in shared apartments in Siracusa. Located throughout the city, apartments are equipped with many amenities including washing machines, full kitchens (including dishes and cooking utensils), utilities, and large gathering spaces. The program fee will cover a select number of meals but the majority of meals will be the student’s responsibility. In the past, many students have preferred grocery shopping at local markets and cooking at home to save money, but there is no shortage of amazing culinary experiences for those so inclined to indulge!
has spent the past fifteen years working with internationally respected architecture and design firms in Virginia, Oregon, and Washington. Through these experiences she has developed a specific appreciation for how materials communicate concept. Her belief is that color, texture, craft, and tradition are manifestations of larger influences and ideas. Her professional portfolio includes a range of project types including aviation, healthcare, commercial, and residential work. In 1999, she received her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech with a major in Interior Design and a minor in Art History, specifically the art of the Italian Renaissance. Emily’s interest in sustainability led her to become a LEED accredited professional and guest lecturer at the Seattle Art Institute. She is a Certified Interior Designer and currently a Director with the Greater Virginia Green Building Council. After receiving her MFA from VCU, she joined Richmond-based architecture and design firm 3north, where she continues to professionally practice. She joined the VCU Interior Design Department as an assistant professor and full-time faculty member during the summer of 2015.
is an artist whose work combines organic, botanical objects with the rich traditions of needlecraft, binding nature and the human touch. With sustainability and environmental stewardship at the heart of her work, her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has been featured in various publications and online. Hillary is from Buffalo, NY and has a BFA in Fiber/Textile Design from Buffalo State College as well as a MFA in Craft/Material Studies (Fibers/Textiles) from Virginia Commonwealth University. Before moving to Richmond to attend VCU, Hillary lived in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and spent time traveling throughout Europe and Southeast Asia.
A valid passport is required to leave the US. If a student does not already have a passport, they are advised to begin the application process as soon as they are accepted into the program. The processing time for new passport applicants can be as long as 8 weeks. For students who already have passports, they will need to verify that the passport’s validity dates extend 6 months past their return date. For more information about passports and the application/renewal process, please consult the State Department's website
Payment of fees
In order to complete the application, students are required to submit a $250 registration fee and deposit. This $250 registration fee and deposit is refundable in two cases: if the program is cancelled, or if a student is rejected by the faculty member based on their qualifications to participate in the program. Reasons for rejection could include, but are not limited to, GPA, lack of a pre-requisite, unacceptable or inappropriate statement of interest, etc. and are at the discretion of the faculty program director. However, if a student pays the fee and is not given final acceptance to the program based on failing to complete application requirements, as determined by the Education Abroad office or faculty director, the $250 is non-refundable.
Students will receive one charge to their student accounts for this program reflecting the balance of the program fee (minus the $250 deposit and application fee). This bill will be charged through VCU Student Accounting and should appear by May.
Please note: While these charges may post to the student’s account simultaneously or separately, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure the account balance is paid before the billing due date.
Withdrawal procedures and financial commitment policy
All withdrawals must be made formally in writing and submitted to the Director of Education Abroad. Otherwise, the program fee will not be refunded. After committing to the program, students deciding to withdraw will be held accountable for a portion of or the entire program fee based on the following schedule:
- Formal withdrawal submitted later than 30 days before the first day of the program abroad: 100% of the program fee will be charged
- Formal withdrawal submitted within 30-60 days before the first day of the program abroad: 75% of the program fee will be charged
- Formal withdrawal submitted within 60-90 days before the first day of the program abroad: 50% of the program fee will be charged
In the event an unexpected emergency occurs within 30 days before the first day of the program abroad, students must provide a physician’s certification that his/her condition prohibits participation. In this case, refunds will be limited to only those funds VCU is able to recover or that have not already been spent on behalf of the student.
See above for refund policy on $250 registration fee and deposit.
Students should schedule an appointment with their physician or at a travel clinic (such as VCU Student Health) at least 4 to 8 weeks before the program to inquire about recommended and/or required vaccines/immunizations. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all routine and travel immunizations are up-to-date.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on recommended and required immunizations for travelers. To view the health risks and requirements for the country to which you will be traveling, please visit the CDC's website
Health Alert: Zika Virus
The CDC has issued a travel alert for countries where the Zika virus is prevalent. Check the CDC’s travel notices
regularly as new countries are being added to this list. Check VCU Student Health
to stay updated as well.
VCU Student Health offers in-depth pre-travel consultation with a health care provider as well as most of the vaccines recommended for safe travel. Prescriptions for recommended medicines are also available. Please visit their website
for full details.
Every effort is made to provide updated and accurate information at the time of publication. The sponsors reserve the right to make necessary changes to the programs and costs. The university reserves the right to revise or alter all fees, regulations pertaining to student fees, and fee collection procedures at any time.