Alumni News

Alumni Spotlight: Rob Jackson

Leading up to the 50th celebration this August, we will be featuring various alumni and professors of the Cortona alumni family. This week we would like to introduce you to Rob Jackson!

Rob Jackson_Biennale.jpg

Name: Rob Jackson

University/Major/degree: University of Georgia, BFA/MFA Jewelry & Metalwork

Were you a student or a professor? Undergrad and Graduate student at the Univ. of GA. Came to Cortona as a Professor after graduating from UGA

Semesters taught in Cortona: Taught: Summer 1991, Summer 1992, Spring 1994, Summer 1996, Summer 1997, Summer 2003, Summer 2006, Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Summer 2014, Spring 2015, and Fall 2018

What courses did you teach in Cortona: Intro to Jewelry & Metalwork, Intermediate & Advanced Jewelry, Intermediate Metals, BFA Exit in Jewelry & Metals, Graduate Jewelry & Metals

Favorite flavor of gelato: Frutti di Bosco & Pino Penguino

Current profession: Faculty Emeritus/Studio Artist

Accolades: I was chosen as 1 of 10 metalsmiths invited to be included in The Penland Book of Jewelry. Each artist had an entire chapter devoted to their work, studio practice, aesthetic and influences (Published by Lark Books, Asheville, NC.)

Currently residing in: Amherst, MA

Tell us a little more about your career path.

I stumbled into jewelry and metalsmithing by accident. I didn’t go to college straight away after high school and signed up for an evening jewelry class at the YWCA in Boston. Working creatively with a jeweler’s sawframe, hammers and torches was instant gratification. I never looked back.

Rob Jackson Cortona Italy CIAO

Let's talk about Cortona. What is one of your favorite memories from your time there?

One of the many incredible moments I’ve had in Italy was being able to experience the Palio in Siena. This medieval horse race, full of pageantry and tradition, has been going on for over 700 years.

How has Cortona influenced how you live or work today?

I have been greatly influenced by the Italian lifestyle, cuisine and culture and have gained a greater appreciation for “being in the moment”. I often reflect upon the Latin oxymoron “festina lente” or “make haste slowly” adopted by Emperors Augustus and Titus and the Medicis among others.

Speaking of influences, if you could have dinner with any three people, from history or alive today, who would you pick?

  • Galileo Galilei: Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer

  • Antoni Gaudí: architect and blacksmith

  • Dante Alighieri: Italian poet

Single Shot by Rob Jackson

Single Shot by Rob Jackson

Before we go, what are you currently working on? Any projects or announcements you would like to share?

My work “Single Shot” was included in the recent exhibition:
IMAGINE: Peace Now (The Innovative Merger of Art and Guns to Inspire New Expressions of Peace Now).

This exhibition addressed issues of gun violence and was exhibited at various venues around the country including:

  • The Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, MA

  • Wellington B. Gray Gallery, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

  • Craft Alliance, St. Louis, MO

  • Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, Louisville, KY

  • Radius Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA

Rob Jackson Single Shot

Thank you so much for sharing, Rob ! We loved learning more about you and sharing your journey and work with the C.I.A.O. family.



Want more alumni spotlights? Make sure to follow C.I.A.O. on Instagram and Facebook!

Alumni Spotlight: Jeff Curto

Leading up to the 50th celebration next August, we will be featuring various alumni and professors of the Cortona alumni family. This week we would like to introduce you to Jeff Curto!

Jeff Curto by Al DaValle

Jeff Curto by Al DaValle

Name: Jeff Curto

University/Major/degree: BFA - Illinois Wesleyan University, MFA - Bennington College)

Were you a student or a professor? Professor of Photography

Semesters taught in Cortona: Fall semester - 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018

What courses did you teach in Cortona: ARST 2210 (Introduction to Photography & Image Culture) and ARST 3270 (Social Documentary Photography and Video)

Favorite flavor of gelato: Banana

Current profession: Professor Emeritus (retired) at College of DuPage, Adjunct Professor at UGA, and Photography workshop leader (photographitaly.com)

Accolades: Former board of directors Chair - Society for Photographic Education; Apple Distinguished Educator

Currently residing in: Twin Lakes, Wisconsin (but between the fall semesters at UGA Cortona and my Italy Photography workshops, I’m lucky to be able to spend 4 or so months in Italy every year.)

photo by Jeff Curto

photo by Jeff Curto

Tell us a little more about your career path.

I’ve been involved in photography since I was 8 years old. Viewing the world through a camera’s lens became my way of exploring and involving myself in life’s flow and flux. That involvement led to a life where I was able to never have any significant work experiences that were outside of the world of photography. Teaching was a natural extension of sharing my passion for lens-based images. 

Let's talk about Cortona. What is one of your favorite memories from your time there?

Cortona has helped me learn about the intricacies and joys of small-town living. Rather than saying that I have one favorite memory, I can say that I’ve been able to form relationships and come to a greater understanding of how important community is in our daily lives.

Photo by Jeff Curto

Photo by Jeff Curto

How has Cortona influenced how you live or work today?

Well, back in the US, we (my wife Mary Pat and I) have moved from a large urban area to a small-town in Wisconsin. We also spend a lot of time in a *very* small (200 people in the summer, 40 in the winter) town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We have discovered the power of small. 

Speaking of influences, if you could have dinner with any three people, from history or alive today, who would you pick?

A tough question, but I’d probably choose Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Gandhi. I think it would be a very interesting conversation.

Photo by Jeff Curto

Photo by Jeff Curto

Before we go, what are you currently working on? Any projects or announcements you would like to share?

Over my last couple of times teaching in Cortona, I’ve been working on a project of portraits of native Cortonese. And, I’m always working on planning my Italy Photography Workshops - my 2019 workshops are currently full, but I’m already working on destinations for 2020. 

Photo by Jeff Curto

Photo by Jeff Curto

Thank you so much for sharing, Jeff ! We loved learning more about you and sharing your journey and photography with the C.I.A.O. family. If you would like to see more of Jeff, make sure to follow him on Instagram @jcurto

Want more alumni spotlights? Make sure to follow C.I.A.O. on Instagram and Facebook!