Each spring semester the School of Art offers a program of study in Italy. This program provides an enriching opportunity to participate in an intensive studio and art history experience by immersing participants in the art and culture of Italy.Italy 1


Each spring semester, the School of Art offers a program of study in Italy. Because of the required discipline-specific coursework for BFA and BA students (studio art, graphic design, art education, and art history), it can be difficult for these undergraduates to participate in other study abroad programs offered by MSU, and so the School of Art study abroad program was created almost twenty years ago in response to the need for a travel and discovery opportunity as a part of the pursuit of their degree(s).

This program provides an opportunity for an intensive studio and art history experience by immersing participants in the culture of Italy, led by their own professors and with coursework created to be integrated into their graduation schedule (most participant are in their junior year). The students present research projects on-site, work alongside Italian artists in studio and workshop experiences created specifically for them, and then stage a group exhibition at MSU on their return.

There is a gallery exhibition of work created during the trip during the fall semester following the return of the students.

To spend a semester studying in the dreamy light and sumptuous landscapes of Italy is a life-changing experience. In Italy, dubbed the world’s “living art gallery,” the ancient and modern worlds exist side by side. History and culture surround you with Etruscan tombs, Greek temples, Roman ruins and statue-filled Baroque fountains. Three millennia of history, culture and cuisine seduces just about everyone who visits. Nowhere else on earth does just living seem so extraordinary.

2020 Semeseter Abroad Professors and Coursework:

(Dates may be subject to small adjustments before November 1, 2019)

The 2020 semester abroad consist of four courses, two studio and two art history, in an alternating schedule. The courses total is 16 credits for the semester.

Professor Josh DeWeese: February 3-21

Working from History: Ceramics and Drawing in Italy (ARTZ491), 5 credits

Professor Melissa Ragain: February 24 – March 13

Modern and Contemporary Art in Italy (ARTH491), 3 credits

Professor Jeremy Hatch: March 23 - April 11

Ceramics/Sculpture: thematic topic TBA (ARTZ491), 5 credits

Professor Regina Gee: April 13 – April 28

Roman Fresco and Mosaic (ARTH375), 3 credits

Order of Courses and Brief Itinerary:

The semester begins in Rome with Professor Josh DeWeese. In Rome, the course will be built around an in-depth project referencing Etruscan and Roman pottery for hand-built stoneware for students of all skill levels. The course begins with a two-week workshop hosted by c.r.e.t.a. in Rome, an international cultural association for the promotion of ceramics (https://www.cretarome.com/about-us). The students will then travel to La Meridiana International School of Ceramics (https://lameridiana.fi.it/). The school, where Professor DeWeese will lead a wood-firing workshop, is in a restored 17th-century farmhouse in Certaldo, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany close to Florence.

The students return to Rome for the first art history course, Professor Melissa Ragain’s Modern and Contemporary art in Italy. In an interactive setting, students will examine in- depth the specific historical and political context for Italian art in the twentieth century. Topics will include Futurism; the relationship between modernism and Fascism in the 1930s; the influence of the Communist Party and debates over representation and abstraction in the 1950s; informale painting in Europe; and the international success of Arte Povera and the Transavantgaurde.


Spring Break will follow the MSU academic calendar March 16 - 20


After Spring Break, the students will meet in Rome to leave as a group for Sicily for a three-week workshop led by Professor Jeremy Hatch. For the project, students will work alongside studio and design majors from all over Italy at the M.A.D.E Accademia di Belle Arti Rosario Gagliardi located in Siracusa, Sicily, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Students will be housed in several apartments in the historic center, Ortygia, famous for its Greek history and ruins, including temples and a theater, its Baroque palaces, and for having one of the most beautiful public squares in Italy.

The final section of the semester is an art history course led by Professor Regina Gee on the topic of Roman fresco. Professor Gee will meet the students in Sicily and fly with them to Naples for the beginning of the course. From there, the students will travel to Pompeii, where they will be based for a week while they visit the archaeological site of ancient Pompeii as make day trips to additional sites around the Bay of Naples including Herculaneum and the Villa of Oplontis. This last course will end in Rome, after which the students return to the United States.

For more information, contact Regina Gee, Faculty Program Coordinator at: rgee@montana.edu 

 Click here to view the Italy program brouchure.