Art comes alive on trip to Italy


Animation professor Tony Tarantini teaching students during this past summer's trip. Photo courtesy of Clemente Botelho.

Animation professor Tony Tarantini teaching students during this past summer’s trip. Photo courtesy of Clemente Botelho.

Students are travelling to Italy to get up close and personal with timeless pieces of artwork, as well as the vibrant culture.

The Italian Art and Culture elective is a 32-day adventure in Italy and is directed by Illustration professor Clemente Botelho and Animation professor Tony Tarantini.

“It’s about studying the art and culture in the actual environment where predominantly that art and culture was created,” said Botelho.

Students visit Florence, Rome, Venice, as well as day trips to Assisi, Sienna, Bologna and the Tuscan countryside.

During the trip, the students stay in apartments, located in Florence’s city centre, walking distance to the Duomo Cathedral, as well as many other historical sites.

“Everyday whether in class or not, they’re at the hub of the environment. Where these things collide. Where life collides with history,” said Botelho.

Botelho studied in Florence, himself, when he was an art student. During his year there he studied art history and painting.

“That experience for me really helped to set some career goals, some artistic goals, and directions that I want to confront in my work, as an illustrator and an artist,” said Botelho. “It was always a thought of mine that once I started teaching, I really wanted to recreate that same type of environment for Sheridan students.”

The elective is available to students in all degree programs in the faculty of arts, as well as students at any year level.

Stephen Gaitan, 23, second-year Photography student did the elective this past summer, when he was in his first year of studies.

Gaitan says despite having concerns before the trip, he’s glad he took the opportunity.

“We were going to be studying mostly classical art, renaissance art, so I was concerned how that would apply to a new medium of art, like photography,” said Gaitan. “What the instructors, Clemente and Tony, talked about was more the conceptual part of each piece and that applies to any sort of art. I think because of them more than anything else, and the way they taught, it applies to not just illustration or animation, but any other medium of art as well.”

Gaitan says that because they were taught to think about art conceptually and symbolically, it got him to explore photojournalism and documentary photography.

“It got me thinking about Europe and their political situation and stuff like that, and so for the rest of the trip I started taking pictures with that in mind. I began to look to embed a commentary of the social/political situation that was there,” said Gaitan. “Fundamentally it just changed the way I approach it. Before I’m even hitting the shutter button on my camera, I’m thinking about my photograph differently.”

The elective gives students the opportunity to experience artwork for themselves, rather than just viewing it through photographs, and analyzing it in a classroom.

“You can look at a photo and analyze it conceptually but you feel different when you’re actually there,” said Christina Parente, 25, third-year Interior Design student, who did the course this past summer. “You’re living it. You’re no longer looking at a picture of the painting, but the painting itself. In a city like Florence, it’s difficult to describe in words, but you don’t just necessarily see things or hear things, you start to feel things.”

Parente says that the course was eye opening for her not only artistically, but personally.

“For me it wasn’t even about getting that credit, it was about experiencing all there was to experience about this trip,” said Parente. “Being displaced on your own, fending for yourself, and seeing what comes out of it, and what you learn about yourself, about your art, and just about life in general.”

Botelho hopes that the course will help students reset and broaden their artistic ambitions, just as he did many years ago.

“If students really immerse themselves in this experience, it can be life changing. It allows them a broader scope,” said Botelho. “It helps to set really broad, and lofty, and global goals for students.”

Botelho can be contacted at, if students would like more information on the elective or how to apply.