Penn State Abington ArtISTs blog as they 'map' Italy

Penn State Abington ArtISTs are “mapping” Italy for a new independent study course that requires them to collaborate and ultimately produce a mixed-media reflection of their experiences abroad.

The ArtISTs, 18 Art and Information Sciences and Technology (IST) students accompanied by three faculty leaders, will use the tools of their respective trades to map, or to document and respond to, their journey through Rome, Bologna, Florence and Venice.

The art students are required to complete a series of visual and verbal assignments in their journals/sketchbooks including exploring and experimenting with different materials and methods. For their part, the IST students will document Italy using geolocation positioning, digital images, video capture as well as the incorporation of personal impressions. All students are required to participate in daily discussions and to complete prescribed reading. Members of the group also will blog or create a diarios of their travels, which end on March 10.

This mapping will be the basis for the interdisciplinary course’s culminating project. Pairs of IST and art students will utilize Penn State Media Commons to create a response piece that reflects their experiences exploring the cultural tapestry of Italy.

The course is led by IST Senior Lecturer Joe Oakes, Senior Art Lecturer Yvonne Love and Associate Professor of Art and Integrative Arts Bonnie Levinthal.

While the ArtISTs absorb the rich colors and textures of Italy, another group of Abington students is contemplating southwest England’s Neolithic stone circles. This the fourth time Bryan Polk, senior lecturer of religious studies and English at Abington, has accompanied students to study the religious significance of prehistoric monuments in the context of their landscape.

Ellen Brennan, senior lecturer of communication arts and sciences, is accompanying Polk and the 13 students. The course focuses on two of the most spectacular monuments, Stonehenge and Avebury. Students have the unique option of walking inside the Stonehenge circle.

Dolores Arevalo, coordinator of International Affairs at Abington, said, “In addition to the two groups that are abroad now, Associate Professor of Engineering Bob Avanzato is conducting an exploratory visit to Italy for a future robotics course.”

To read the blogs from Italy, go to

For more information on Abington’s international programs, go to