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Jonah Woods ’18: Art History in Italy and Greece

Art History in Italy and Greece

Temple of Zeus in Athens

Jonah Woods ’18—My trips this past fall, thanks to the Givens Award were eye-opening experiences into vastly different periods of history and allowed me to appreciate what art has meant to generations over the years. While studying at John Cabot, I took an art history class covering the ancient monuments in Rome. We covered sites used for entertainment, the arts, and daily life. To complement the monuments in Rome, I travelled to Athens, Greece and other parts of Italy with the help of the Givens Endowed Scholarship.

I travelled to Athens in October, and the most important constructions I saw were on the hill of the Acropolis of Athens and the Temple of Zeus down below it. Both places were built in honor of the gods they worshiped, all with different meanings and respective styles. In my class back in Rome, I was able to compare the Acropolis and Temple of Zeus with the Roman Forum and the Temple of Jupiter. Although many years passed between the artwork in Athens and Rome, they still erected enormous monuments in honor of their gods, a practice we continue today. These experiences helped me see that the structures were tools to show the permanence of the culture (or so they thought); the Greeks and Romans tried to prove they were here to stay by building these incredible complexes.

After Athens, I went to Siena and then Florence to look at Renaissance era artwork. In Seina, I saw the historical Cathedral of Saint Mary and the work from Bernini, Donatello, and Michaelanglo inside. I was fascinated most by the work of Donatello, which manipulated bronze (an incredibly hard metal) into rugged, course-like clothes and hair. As I later saw at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Michaelanglo pushed the boundaries of sculpting in his David. He added movement to his pieces in a unique way that was divergent from the popular artists of his time.

Thanks to the Givens family and this award, I was able to see these works of art and how they compared to other pieces over the years. I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel to these wonderful places, and would suggest that anyone who has little or no background in art to do the same. In all of the places I was able to see during my time abroad, these places were the most special because of the extra involvement I was able to have with the arts. I would like to thank the Givens family for the experience of a lifetime.