I received my PhD in art history from the University of Washington in 2022 and graduated in 2023. My research focuses on expressions of regional identity in landscape design, and the use of both local materials and sculptural/architectural techniques in the villas and gardens of early modern Tuscia, a rural corner of Italy nestled halfway between Florence and Rome. I hold an MA in art history from the University of Washington (2013), and a BA in art history and drama from Seattle University (2007). Over the course of my graduate studies, fellowships that have significantly impacted the scope and direction of my research include a Junior Research Fellowship in Garden and Landscape studies from Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in 2019, and a University of Washington Rome Center Alumni Fellowship from the Northwest Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy in 2011. My articles have appeared in “Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes” (2021) and “The Three Natures: Gardens and Landscapes of the Italian Renaissance” (Brepols, 2023). I have also served as a board member for the Civita Institute, a research organization in Civita di Bagnoregio that was established by the founder of the University of Washington’s Rome Center.
Maniera Etrusca: Gardens, Vernacular Landscape, and Regional Identity in Sixteenth Century Tuscia
Tuscia, a volcanic region of central Italy between Florence and Rome, is home to a veritable cohort of interrelated designed landscapes, which until now had never received their own regional study. Three of these sites are well known to scholars of art history and landscape architecture—Villa Lante in Bagnaia, Villa Farnese in Caprarola, and the Sacro Bosco in Bomarzo—and figure prominently in studies of central Italian villeggiatura during the late Renaissance. However, our understanding of these sites has ultimately remained divorced from their surrounding cultural and topographical landscape. My dissertation is a recontextualization of these designed landscapes through a specifically regional lens, and I frame these sites as products of a lively and ongoing dialogue between their patrons concerning gardens, villa culture, and the distinctive nature of Tuscian landscape. As the patrons’ conversations about art, nature, and local identity evolved, so too did their gardens, and across the chapters of my dissertation I demonstrate how these sites appear to have responded to each other throughout the mid- to late sixteenth century.
My dissertation approaches the patrons’ designed landscapes from a material and experiential perspective, shifting the dialogue away from what is represented within the gardens and onto the matter of how landscape was organized and how its constituent elements were utilized. Intervening against iconographic, programmatic readings of the sites that focus on discourses of pastoralism, epic literature, and Roman antiquarianism, I propose a new perspective that privileges the gardens’ relationships with the surrounding territory over emblematic meaning. Through this lens, my research ultimately reveals what I have termed the maniera etrusca, a uniquely regional school of art that emerged in sixteenth century Tuscia, which celebrated local vernacular culture and Etruscan heritage.
A film is a mosaic forged by time. Adamska Elizaveta Rakhilkina’s films exist in the chasm between two empires—the United States and Russia, and their colonial pasts. Tomorrow Was War is a short film that envisions a dystopian police state of Russia to-be while painting a disquieting portrait of a stealth transgender man, Shura, who is drowning in the environment of total surveillance, paranoia and reactive conformity.