Summer 2013: Florence, Italy

An Exquisite Corpse: KCAI at SACI

A 6-credit collaborative program at the Studio Art Center International in Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance and perhaps the most influential city in the development of Western aesthetics and Humanist philosophy, will immerse the student in Italian culture through an immersive synthesis of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and cultural artifacts experienced in their original context in museums, churches, villas, monasteries, piazzas and gardens, which will serve as an extension of the studio. This historically intact city, a work of art in itself, provides the student with an experience and awareness of not only artistic precedent but of the symbiotic relationship between tradition and innovation that make its Mannerist movement a counterpart for the contemporary practice of making "art about art."The Florentine environment and the student’s integration into the Studio Art Centers International community ( will provide the student with a lived education that will broaden their world view as well as provide an example of the heights of human aesthetic achievement. This program is a unique collaboration with SACI, an American art school established in Florence more than 35 years ago by the painter Jules Maidoff, who found it an essential city for any developing artist.
The city is at the core of the political philosophies of Niccolo Machiavelli; the ecstatic fundamentalism of Savonarola; and the dramatic dealings of the Medici family as nascent Mafioso and supporters of the arts. The city houses innumerable masterworks by its Medieval and Renaissance inhabitants, including Giotto, Cimabue, Dante Alghiari, Giorgio Vasari, Alberti, Masaccio, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Verrocchio, Fra Fillipo Lippi, Fra Angelico, Ghirlandaio, Luca della Robbia, Paolo Uccello, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Andrea del Sarto, Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo Bounarotti, Galileo Galilei, Agnolo Bronzino and Pontromo, to name a few. We will stroll by Alberti's masterpiece of Humanist architecture, Santa Maria Novella, which also houses the first use of scientific perspective in Masaccio's Holy Trinity. The SACI school itself is the former house of the model who posed for the Mona Lisa. Raphael, Perugino and countless others arrived in Florence to complete feats of Humanist painting, sculpture and architecture. The collections of the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti run the gamut of Italian painting and sculpture, including works by Titian, Bellini, Caravaggio, Giovanna Garzoni, Parmigianino, Canova, Boldini and Duccio. Van Dyck, Rubens, Durer and van der Wyden all find homes there as well. All of this is in a setting that is a synthesis of science of science and perception - a walkable city that offers aesthetic splendor at every turn. The markets, the rose gardens on the walk up to San Miniato, the cappuccinos, the sunsets, the Giardino di Boboli and the Opera Festival will create an unforgettable experience that will follow you for the rest of your life.

In addition to the curriculum and experiences that come along with a travel program in this inviting, accessible and safe city, Florence offers a remarkable range of cultural and popular events and activities during the summer months, such as late evenings at the Uffizi, the Palazzo Strozzi and the Accademia Museums; The White Nights Festival; the famous Calcio (soccer) in Costume, during which the different quarters of the city compete in this well-known game; the Maggio Musicale, a series of outdoor and indoor events ranging from ballet to opera to symphony concerts; outdoor evening film festivals; and the Estate Fiesolana, which includes concerts, film and theater held in a Roman amphitheater.


May 18 through June 22, 2013

Academic credit

Participants will earn six credit hours from the following courses:

  • Life Drawing: The Discovery of Pictorial Composition in the Florentine Renaissance, PADRE 320-01/420-01, 3 credit hours This 3-credit studio course will introduce the student to the ideas and topics central to the development of theories of color, composition, form and subject in Florentine Renaissance as it relates to the plastic arts. Reading from seminal texts by Alberti, Vasari and Francesco de Hollanda, students will be immersed in the uses of appropriation and reference that culminate in the city's magnificent works of Mannerism. Students will learn to prepare traditional drawing surfaces, which they will use to record the city's masterworks and their relationship to the natural and architectural landscape. Students also will explore traditional drawing materials from metalpoint and chalk to handmade inks. The majority of the class sessions will be held in museums, cathedrals, gardens and palaces, where lectures will provide an immediate synthesis of theory and practice. This course will focus on the evolution and development of systems of proportion, perspective, linear composition, convention and arrangement, and the grotesque as it was used in 15th- and 16th-century Florentine art theory and practice. Using drawings completed in and around the city, students will create larger and more resolved works based on the topics discussed in class and will explore how idealism and abstraction function in the development of a composition.  

    Students will be given dedicated studio spaces in which to work and will be expected to use this as a base for work completed in the provided hours outside of class. Weekly critiques and late-night drawing sessions also will be a requirement of this course. The course will culminate in a series of images that show evidence of an individual thesis.
    Students will be provided with an "Amici degli Uffizzi" card, which allows them unlimited an free access to more than 30 city museums and gardens as well as a private entrance to the Uffizzi museum ahead of the lines. Students may purchase art supplies at Zecchi’s, Belle Colori, while in Florence, but will have the option of bringing their supplies with them. The cost for supplies for this course are estimated to range from $30 to $200, depending on the materials the student wishes to employ. Many of the materials will be provided for students through fees associated with the program. While this course will be focused on drawing, advanced students have the option of painting in oils and creating a more self-directed series of works.  

  • A SACI course of student's choosing from SACI's late spring 2013 course offerings (scroll down the page and select "Courses Offered" then select "late spring" as the term of attendance) – Available courses include batik, ceramics, Conservation I, design workshop, drawing, Italian language, jewelry design, painting, photography (black and white), printmaking workshop, renaissance art history survey, sculpture and serigraphy.


Jessie Fisher, associate professor of painting

Program Cost

  • 6 credit hours:   $5,825*

Due to the nature of this program, all participants are required to register for the KCAI course and one SACI course, totaling 6 credit hours of enrollment.

*Cost includes KCAI and SACI tuition, full SACI security and support staff, lodging for five weeks in fabulous SACI apartments, unlimited wireless Internet access in all SACI apartments, use of SACI’s computer lab, dedicated studio space, weekly open model sessions, welcome dinner and studio luncheons, "Amici degli Ufizzi" museum card, which gives students free and unlimited access to city museums and gardens and art-historian-led day trips in Tuscany to Fiesole, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Volterra and San Gimignano and other SACI events as listed in their website. The majority of the materials for the KCAI drawing course also will be provided.


Please note, this price does not include airfare, meals or the $400 refundable housing deposit.


Feb. 8*: Completed applications including all required accompanying documentation and a $250 non-refundable program deposit are due no later than 4 p.m. Submit application materials to the international studies coordinator in the Academic Resource Center on the second floor of Jannes Library and the program deposit to the business office on the second floor of Vanderslice Hall.

March 1: The first half of the total program cost is due in the business office.

April 1: Payment for the final half of the total program cost is due in the business office.

*Applicants will be contacted by the international studies coordinator via email the following week regarding acceptance into the program.

The application

Download the information packet here.

Download the application here.

Continuing Education

Continuing Education

Interested in continuing education classes at KCAI? Visit the School for Continuing and Professional Studies.

Virtual Advisor

Virtual Advisor

Have questions about KCAI? Find the answers here.