SACI MFA students exhibit in Cortona’s Palazzo Casali, opening April 24, 2014 at 6:30pm

SACI MFA students visiting the Etruscan sites in Cortona

SACI MFA students, SACI instructors, and artists visiting the Etruscan sites in Cortona

Within Alterity: Encounters with a Population, a Collection, a Territory

An exhibition of artworks at the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca in Cortona (MAEC) by students in SACI’s MFA in Studio Art program.

April 24 – July 31, 2014

Opening reception: Thursday, April 24 at 6:30pm

A very special exhibition opportunity has been arranged for SACI’s first MFA students in conjunction with an exhibition at the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca in Cortona (MAEC), which feature artifacts from Holkham Hall and the British Museum. SACI’s MFA students are working on a multimedia project entitled Within Alterity: Encounters with a Population, a Collection, a Territory.  The project is based on their engagement with the museum and its Etruscan collection, the people of Cortona, and the surrounding region where many Etruscan sites are located.  It will culminate in an exhibition of the MFA students’ artworks April 24 – July 31, 2014, inspired by their exposure to Etruscan culture, which will be held at MAEC throughout the spring and summer and sponsored by the US Consulate in Florence.  This opportunity was made possible through the efforts of MFA instructors Karen Yurkovich and Daria Filardo and by the support of MAEC Director Paolo Giulierini.

“. . . as inseparable as life and death, even now, on the sunny, green-filled April morning with the breeze blowing in from the sea. And the land beyond seems as mysterious and fresh as if were still the morning of Time.” David Herbert Lawrence


The Future of the Past

Through July 31, 2014 at the MAEC (Museum of the Etruscan Academy and of the City of Cortona) is the exhibition Seduzione Etrusca: dai segreti di Holkham Hall alle meraviglie del British Museum (Etruscan Seduction: From the Secrets of Holkham Hall to the Marvels of the British Museum). The exhibition attempts to construct through paintings, drawings, archaeological artifacts, documents and other objects, the birth of Etruscan studies in the 1700’s.

At the center of the exhibition is the British passion for the Etruscan civilization, well represented by Lord Thomas Coke, founder of Holkham Hall and avid collector and financier in 1726 of De Etruria Regali Libri VII by Thomas Dempster. This volume, with its more than 90 images of Etruscan works, spurred interest and research into the Etruscan culture and the formation of the Etruscan Academy in Cortona.

To both enhance the exhibition and celebrate the foreign connection to Etruscan studies and comprehension, a collaboration has been organized between the MAEC and SACI. Grounded in contemporary art practice, the project offers the students of SACI the possibility to draw inspiration from this seductive past.

This project recognizes the importance of the confrontation with the Etruscan culture, which has for centuries fascinated artists, researchers and intellectuals and which still provides opportunities for themes and perspectives of contemporary importance.

A crucial element in this meeting will be the direct access to the archeological objects and the intersection between material culture and cultural ideas, conventions and aesthetics embodied in these.



The Etruscan culture is unique from several points of view. While their cultural and religious significance to Roman culture is indisputable, they were still victims of a Damnatio memoriae, which attempted to exterminate all traces of this influence (for example, the 20-book history written by the Emperor Claudius was systematically destroyed). While being at the roots of Western culture yet far from them, they maintain the position of outsider. This alterity was already recognized by Seneca: “This is the difference between us and the Etruscans: we believe that lightening is produced by the collision of the clouds, they that the clouds collide to produce lightening. Given that for them everything finds inception in the Divine, they are convinced that things do not have meaning because they happen but rather things happen to bring forth meaning.“ (Questioni naturali, II,32,2)

The philosophical concept of alterity is at the heart of the project. Alterity (or otherness) contains diversity, that is, the meeting differences which seek a synthesis. The title of the project that the students from SACI have developed is Within Alterity: Encounters with a Population, a Collection, a Territory.

Building an identity and, consequently, one’s subjectivity was a fundamental aspect of the Grand Tour and of any relationship with an unknown and diverse world and culture. This relationship will be re-proposed through the project in the works of the students of SACI.

The condition of alterity will be addressed through three thematic areas: people, collection, and territory (journey/route). One group will work with the people of Cortona to investigate the persistence of the roots of identity of the Etruscans that emerge or are hiding in the communities that inhabit the city. The people, of the past, of the present and those foreign, will be the subject of a multimedia work consists of interviews, portraits and stories as attempts to reflect upon possible and differentiated identities. Other students will work on the meaning and importance of a collection as an embodiment of information and power that acts through the construction of knowledge as displayed in the ordered accumulation of a collection (Michel Foucault). For example, the book De Etruria Regali was of fundamental importance from the point of view of propaganda as it connected the Medici dynasty to the Etruscans and their historical importance.

The students have certainly been guided by the seductive objects and artifacts as well as by the drawings of these commissioned to illustrate the book De Etruria Regali; starting from their visual forms and from the meaning of these images as well as the dissonances found in the drawings that were born from different cultural contexts and ideas. Finally, some students will explore the idea of the journey, from the point of view of the Grand Tour as well as the idea of learning as a fluid path of experience and information. The geography of the area, the mapping of territories through analysis of archaeological and historical sources (such as the organization of the Etruscan Discipline) will function as activators of analysis and artistic elaboration.

The work realized uses video, drawing, painting and installation, and reflects this exceptional opportunity to confront oneself with a fundamental aspect of Italian culture that was of great importance for young scholars and English explorers 300 years ago.

With the support of the U.S. Consulate General in Florence, Italy.



Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona (MAEC)
Piazza Signorelli 9, Cortona (AR) – ITALY

T. 0575 630415 – 637235

How to get there

Tickets & Reservations
General € 12
Reduced € 9 (group, families, etc.)

General €13
Reduced € 9

US Consulate, Florence

SACI logo

About SACI

SACI is a US non-profit College of Art and Design in Florence, Italy, for undergraduate and graduate students seeking accredited instruction in studio art, design, conservation, art history, and Italian language and culture. Founded in 1975, SACI offers the following programs: Academic Semester/Year Abroad, Summer Studies, Venice Summer Program, Post-Bac in Conservation, MFA in Studio Art, MA in Art History.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: