Prestigious Rome Prize Given to Michelle DiMarzo '07
Where better to study the famous Renaissance and early modern masterpieces of Italy than in Rome itself?
Michelle DiMarzo ’07, a PhD candidate in art history at Temple University and part-time studies professor of art history at Fairfield University, will do just that for the next two years as a recipient of the Rome Prize, a fellowship given by the American Academy in Rome (AAR) and awarded to approximately 30 scholars who represent the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities.
The Rome Prize is an incredibly esteemed award, Dr. Jill Deupi, director and curator of University museums, reported. “It offers an unparalleled opportunity to work without distraction and to draw inspiration from the AAR’s incredible community of scholars and practitioners,” she said.
A recipient of the Rome Award herself, Dr. Deupi spent her tenure in Rome from 2002 to 2004. “My prize allowed me to complete my doctoral research, leaving me well-positioned to finish writing my dissertation and successfully ‘defend’ when I returned to the States in 2004,” she said. Dr. Deupi’s dissertation was titled “Cultural Politics in Bourbon Naples, 1734-1799: Antiquities, Academies, and Rivalries with Rome.”
Recipients of the Rome Prize are provided a fellowship that includes a stipend, a study or studio, and room and board for a period of six months to two years. Prizes cover a range of arts, including ancient studies, architecture, design, literature, and music.
DiMarzo will do dissertation research in the archives and libraries of Rome. Specifically, she will study early modern art and architecture in Italy and focus on 16th-century Venetian art (see detail of Titian's self-portrait, approx. 1550, pictured). “My dissertation examines the charged relationship between the two powerhouses of Italian art and culture in the 16th century, Rome and Venice, through the lens of a journey taken to the papal city by the most famous Venetian artist of the century, Titian, in 1545, during which he painted for Pope Paul III, traded words with Michelangelo, and breathed the air of Rome on the very eve of the Counter-Reformation.”
DiMarzo’s interest in early modern Italian art developed while studying abroad through Fairfield University’s program in Florence, Italy. “Ironically, aside from a senior seminar on Mannerism with Dr. Jesús Escobar, all of the classes I took on what would become my field of study were taken while I studied abroad! You certainly can't beat direct access to the works of art you're talking about in class – there’s no better advertisement for studying abroad,” she said.
Faculty in the Department of Art History are excited for DiMarzo’s continued success in her scholarship. “Michelle was an exceptionally compelling student in her classes as an undergraduate here at Fairfield,” said Dr. Katherine Schwab, professor of art history. “Her ability to ask difficult art historical questions and her sophisticated talents in writing were quickly brought to the attention of our faculty. We strongly supported her plans to pursue her PhD and were delighted that she has flourished at Temple University.”
In addition to being right at the source for her research, DiMarzo is looking forward to living in a “fabulous villa in Rome” and, of course Roman cuisine. “AAR is home to the Rome Sustainable Food project, which was established under the aegis of Chez Panisse's Alice Waters a few years ago,” DiMarzo said. “I saw a sample menu on the AAR website and my mouth immediately watered.”
The Rome Prize will also give DiMarzo the opportunity to spend time with fellow Stag, Carla Wiegers ’07, DiMarzo’s best friend and roommate from Fairfield. “She lives in Rome, where she is the resident director for Saint John's University's program abroad, and is also in training as an opera singer. She left the U.S. just three days after our graduation, and although I've spent time in Italy over the intervening years, this will be our first time living in the same place since college!” DiMarzo said.
DiMarzo’s husband, Sean Gleason ’07 will take a year off from his PhD program in Latin linguistics at Yale University and join her in Rome after his academic term finishes next May. DiMarzo said, “Being separated, even for a few months at a time, will certainly be a challenge, but we're both looking forward to when we'll be able to share this incredible experience together.”
Dr. Deupi said, “I am simply thrilled for Michelle that she has received this most distinguished of honors. The fact that she has been awarded a two-year Rome Prize speaks not only to the wonderful preparation she received at Fairfield but also to the inspired scholarship she has undertaken at Temple. It is also, of course, a reflection of her remarkable dedication and hard work. I will be watching, with great interest, to see where the road leads Michelle after Rome. What is clear, is that she has already charted a course for excellence. As they say in Italy, 'Auguri!' [congratulations!]”