On Their Way: Page 5 of 6
Brianna Smith '14
When Brianna Smith ’14 heard about the UNH summer painting program in Ascoli Piceno, she knew she wanted to go. But as a first-generation college student from Hampstead, N.H., even with financial aid, she still had to work like crazy to make it all happen. So, Italy just seemed improbable.
However, department chair, Professor Jennifer Moses, had her eye on Smith and masterfully cobbled together scholarships from the Edward and Mary Scheier Fund (for artists), the B. Thomas Trout Scholarship (for study abroad), and the Arthur Balderacchi Fund for the Study of Art in Italy. All of these scholarships were created by former professors in the College of Liberal Arts. And so the stars aligned for Smith.
Although the Scheiers and Trout are deceased, Smith was able to have lunch with Professor Emeritus Arthur Balderacchi, who taught sculpture and all levels of drawing at UNH for more than 25 years. “We had lunch together!” says Smith. “He was great.”
To listen as Smith talks about her summer is to understand how astonishing and beautiful Italy can be for a young painter.
First she notes that Ascoli Piceno is not “globalized.” “We got a sense of Italy that hasn’t been touched yet,” she says. “I ate an incredible amount of gelato, and we were able to paint en plein aire almost every day. My painting abilities improved in a way that would not have been possible in a studio.”
Her painting teachers, Rick Fox and Jennifer Moses, were both there as well, and for the last week and a half, the group traveled to Florence, Bologna, Sienna, Volterra, and Venice. “It was like art boot camp,” says Smith. “Venice was my favorite place. It really messes with your senses to be on a land mass overtaken by canals.”
But what became firm in Smith’s mind was her commitment to plein aire painting. “There’s this experience when you’re working from life,” she says. “An artist sees color differently. You may see a blue wall, but a painter will also see pink and yellow in it. When you try to paint from a photograph, the image loses those variations. A photograph builds the composition for you and you lose that sense of projecting yourself onto what you’re painting.”
For the past school year, Smith has been very dedicated to the Museum of Art as one of their three student fellows. “It has really influenced me to direct myself towards museum work,” says Smith.
This fall, Smith will have a solo exhibition at the Elliott Alumni Center here at UNH. She’ll be working on campus and then plans to volunteer at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, N.H.
“I like not having it all planned out,” says Smith. “Ever since my first year in college I’ve had my schedule plotted. It’s nice to be looser. I could be pessimistic, but I feel that there’s so much out there.”