In August I set off on a journey that would change me in more ways than I could imagine. I lived for three months in a medieval hilltop town in Tuscany, where I immersed myself wholly in renaissance art and Italian living.            

October seventh was full blown Indian summer, too beautiful to be indoors. I settled on a stone wall a little ways out of town to get some work done. The wall apparently had other ideas. The capstone shifted and both of us toppled off, roughly 40 feet to the ground. The rock landed on my head, and pinned me to the ground. After a few minutes of struggling, I managed to lift it, get up, and walk back up towards the city gates. I was taken to a hospital, where I would spend the next 13 days. My spleen had cracked, four ribs, my nose, and my toe had broken. I was on constant surveillance in intensive care for five days, none of my peers were informed about my accident until the following evening, in case I didn’t survive the night. I should have been dead, or at the very least paralyzed, yet I viewed nearly every minute as an inconvenience. Another day in Italy that I was wasting being poked and prodded, IV’d and x-rayed, I cared very little about my ruptured spleen, I just wanted to be out living the Italian life properly. In hindsight however, I created for myself an experience that none of the other students had. Death knocked me on the head with a capstone, and I rejected it, I learned my own strength, and in doing that gained a world of self-respect. I got the chance to experience Italy without an American buffer; I learned to communicate (albeit poorly) in a completely foreign atmosphere. I burned my imprint. Cortona, Italy knows me as “angela volante” they take pride in the miracle of my survival. I hold Cortona as the place I found myself, the town that saved me.

I’m choosing to express characters, moments, and feelings regarding this experience using egg tempera and silverpoint. These methods had a heavy foothold in Tuscany during the early renaissance.  A five-minute walk from home lived Fra Angelico’s Cortona Annunciation. An hour away in Florence, the Uffizi museum housed rooms of Botticelli’s and Fra Fillipo Lippi temperas, which never failed to render me breathless, or drop me to my knees. In my thesis work I attempt to hold conversation between these early renaissance masters, and the grotesqueties held so dear by the Dutch artists of similar times.  My method of working is slow, repetitive, and tedious. My obsessive focus on this event, and these images is cathartic, and a constant reminder of what I have, and what I could have lost.