Year in Review: Best of 2016 at SACI


Happy New Year from SACI!

Welcome to 2017! 2016 was a great year at SACI. If you missed any of the highlights from the past 12 months, here is a re-cap of our biggest events and news items.


2016 brought two wonderful figures to the SACI community. This year, we welcomed SACI President, Steven Brittan, and Director of SACI’s MFA in Studio Art Program, Dr. Filipe Rocha da Silva.

In January 2016, Studio Arts College International (SACI) announced the appointment of Steven J. Brittan as SACI’s new President. An alumnus of SACI, Steve is a former SACI instructor and administrator who has been on SACI’s Board of Trustees for over a decade. He has taught at Harvard University, where he earned his Master’s degree in Architecture, Columbia University, and the Rhode Island School of Design, and has published numerous articles on architecture, design, and related topics. Steve, who began at SACI on February 1, 2016, is looking forward to helping SACI reach its full potential as one of the preeminent US colleges of art and design in Europe.

Filipe_Rocha_da_SilvaThis summer, Dr. Filipe Rocha da Silva was announced as Director of SACI’s MFA in Studio Arts ProgramDr. Filipe Rocha da Silva received his doctorate in Visual Arts from the University of Evora in 2005, and an MFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute in 1984. He has extensive experience teaching studio art at the university level and, in addition to being a dynamic artist, is a highly distinguished scholar.

For over a decade he has taught at the University of Évora in Portugal, where he has headed Visual Arts Research at the Centro de História da Arte e Investigação Artística. His paintings, drawings, and prints have received worldwide recognition. Filipe has had one-person exhibitions in Lisbon, Porto, Palma de Maiorca, Rabat, Paris, New York City, and Florence and participated in group exhibitions in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Germany, Monaco, China, and the USA.

Filipe’s artworks are in major museums and government collections in Portugal and Spain, and articles on his work have been published in a number of Portuguese and Spanish periodicals. His essays on art have appeared in newspapers, journals, and books in both Europe and the USA. He has studied and taught in Florence, is fluent in Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and English, and is an expert on the connections between historical Italian art and contemporary artmaking throughout the world.

low-res_brochure-coverThis fall, SACI was delighted to announced the MFA in Studio Art Summer Low-Residency Program. Starting in May 2017, students can enroll in SACI’s unique new graduate-degree program—the only 3-year Summer Low-Residency MFA in Studio Art offered entirely in Europe by a US-accredited school. For three successive summers, students live and work in Florence, Italy. They pursue a curriculum that integrates practical and critical skills and encourages individual innovation, creative collaboration, mentorships, and instruction from SACI’s outstanding faculty.

Applications for admission to this program are now being reviewed. The application and scholarship deadline is March 15. SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE!

For detailed information about the curriculum and other special features of this program, please click here or contact


On Saturday, November 12, SACI Studio Arts College International hosted the symposium From Galileo to Mars – Renaissance of the ArtSciencesa day dedicated to the developments in the relationship between arts and sciences, analyzed by distinguished guests such as the Deputy Administrator of NASA Dava Newman, NASA astronaut, engineer and artist Nicole Stott, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, architect and designer Guillermo Trotti, CEO of Dainese D-air Lab Vittorio Cafaggi, and artist and professor Lia Halloran.

The symposium was conceived and moderated by SACI President, Steve Brittan. More than 275 artists, designers, educators, scientists and others from Florence and beyond came to learn how artists and scientists can collaborate to make bold new discoveries.

The first part of the event, supported by the City of Florence, the Region of Tuscany, the US Consulate General Florence, and Dainese, was held at the Cinema Odeon at 9 am with greetings from the President of Florence’s Cultural Commission Maria Federica Giuliani on behalf of Florence Mayor Dario Nardella, Tuscan Regional Commissioner Stefano Ciuoffo and the U.S. Consul General in Florence Abigail M. Rupp, followed by presentations by world renowned scientists, artists, and designers, moderated by SACI President Steven Brittan.

The following exhibition was held at Palazzo dei Cartelloni, SACI’s main building and the former home of mathematician Vincenzo Viviani, who decorated the façade with inscriptions in Latin to commemorate his mentor, Galileo Galilei. Guests viewed artwork documentation by Lia Halloran from the series Your Body is a Space That Sees. Artwork and installations by SACI students were also exhibited. Prior to the symposium From Galileo to Mars – Renaissance of the ArtSciences, artists and creative persons were invited to participate in a special Instagram contest with works representing the connection between art and science using the hashtag #FromGalileotoMars. Works best representing the spirit of the initiative were selected to be screened at Palazzo dei Cartelloni on the afternoon of Saturday, November 12.

Check out this video of the event by SACI’s video instructor, Bruno Spinazzola. Full videos of the symposium can be viewed on the symposium playlist on SACI’s YouTube channel.

saci_ma_commencement_2016_27On July 26, 2016, SACI held its first MA in Art History commencement ceremony. The ceremony and reception was held in the Sala Ferragamo, Harold Acton Library at The British Institute of Florence. The MA candidates were welcomed by SACI President, Steven Brittan. Reflections on Graduating Students was given by MA in Art History Director, Maria Antonia Rinaldi. The Keynote Address was given by SACI President Emeritus, Mary Ann Beckinsale, and Degrees were awarded with great excitement.

SACI 2016 MFA Commencement ceremonyOn April 22, 2016, the commencement ceremony for SACI’s second group of MFA in Studio Art and the first group of MFA in Photography students was held at the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in the Sala Luca Giordano. A video by SACI MFA in Studio Art alum, Christina Gednalske introduced the guests. SACI President, Steven Brittan welcomed graduate program Directors and seminar instructors, Karen YurkovichDaria FilardoRomeo Di Loreto, and Jacopo Santini shared their reflections on the students they mentored for two years. The Keynote Address was given by Mary Ellen Strom, Artist & Director of the MFA Program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston). Degrees were awarded by SACI Founder and Director Emeritus, Jules Maidoff.


SACI announced the launch of SACI’s new visual identity, improving the way we tell SACI’s unique story. Embedded in this new identity is a subtle name change, marking the next important step toward our future with a 42-year history of educating artists in Florence, Italy. Building on a community of over 11,000 alumni, we want to continue to be the premier institution for study in art and design in Italy. Although the “SACI” acronym remains, we are now called Studio Arts College International recognizing our degree-granting status with the new banner line College of Art and Design which underscores the importance of the inclusion of design.

Our new visual identity is an embodiment of our artistic culture and our images are from our alumni community, and our faculty. We are so proud of the artistic achievements and the quality of education we provide to our students, we realized there could be no better way to show this than through our multi-media.

saci-mx-accademia-4Fall Term 2016, SACI began important collaborations with renowned museums throughout Florence with the launch of SACI Museum Experience (SACI MX). Students in Museology, Intermediate and Advanced Graphic Design, Typography, and Illustration worked on hands-on projects redesigning the brand identity and waymapping systems of some of Florence’s most visited museums, such as Galleria dell’Accademia, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, “La Specola” Museo di Storia Naturale and Museo del Tessuto di Prato. After only the first semester, SACI MX has already proved a beneficial and unique experience for our students and the institutions involved. We look forward to continuing these growing relationships in 2017! Learn more about SACI MX Accademia project on the SACI website.


SACI’s MFA in Studio Art and MFA in Photography students took part in Oggetti Politici / Political Objects, an exciting special project linked to the Ai Weiwei. Libero exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi, devised by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi’s Education Department for students of the Italian and international art academies operating in Florence and lasting from October to January. Students received material for exploring the issues in greater depth, took part in guided tours of the exhibition, met artists Gaetano Cunsolo and Justin Randolph Thompson – whose artistic research focuses precisely on the relationship between art and politics – and developed a shared working platform that will eventually lead to the creation of a publication devoted to the project as a whole, inspired by Ai Weiwei’s own Black, White and Grey Books. Instructors involved in the project worked on the theme with their students in accordance with their regular teaching methods and practices, producing works, critical essays, documentation and graphic projects. The results will be released as a final publication in January 2017.


November 4, 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the historic and devastating Florence Flood. For this occasion, the exhibition Underwater: Objects & Artifacts Restored by SACI documented the restoration by SACI instructors and students of a number of cultural treasures damaged by flood waters, including the paintings Saint Jerome (attributed to Polidoro da Caravaggio) and Bronzino’s Madonna with Child and Saint John; Florence’s Santa Maria degli Angeli chapel; and Novilara’s Picenian tombs. The SACI publication Dear Eddie and Popp; Letters from the Florence Flood of ’66, edited by Mary Beckinsale with photographs by Nick Kraczyna, was available during the exhibition.

Molly Di Grazia and Emily JayRecent SACI MFA Graduates from the MFA in Studio Art and MFA in Photography programs have been busy this year with international shows and residencies. Featured alumni activities included Keri Rosebraugh (Moscow, Russia & Treviso, Italy), Hana Sackler (Prato, Italy), Molly Di Grazia (Giverny, France) and Walker Keith Jernigan (Atlanta, GA), with recent residencies and group and solo exhibitions in these various locations around the world. You can check out additional Alumni Success Stories on the SACI blog and website.

If you are a SACI Alum and have news to share or would like to become more involved in the SACI community, please write us at We’d love to hear from you!

Photo by SACI student Ziyi Ge

This year, SACI held the second year of the Venice Summer Program, a special 4-week program in Venice, Italy, a city renowned for both its traditional art treasures and its celebration of innovative contemporary art. Students visit Venice’s great museums and contemporary art exhibitions while learning the fundamentals of Digital Photography. The program provides an exceptional opportunity for students to take part in one of the world’s most famous and prestigious contemporary art events – the Venice Art Biennale. Pictured is a photo from SACI Venice Summer Program student Ziyi Ge.

SACI looks forward to sharing this new year with you. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements and calendar events. For more information, see the SACI website:

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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.

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