CIAO is pleased to welcome Chris Robinson as the new director of the Cortona program. Robinson attended the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, and received his MFA from the UGA Lamar Dodd School of Art in 2001 after a three-year residency at the Penland School of Crafts. He spent his first summer in Cortona as a graduate student in 2000, returning the following summer as an assistant to then-director R. G. Brown. Robinson accepted a permanent staff position and moved to Italy in 2002, where he spends eleven months per year working in the program.
“Penland was a communal environment with many different studios in various disciplines that prepared me for what was to come at UGA and then with the Cortona experience,” Robinson said. “The position of liaison between the university, the program and the Cortonese – city officials, merchants and citizens of the village – is really about making connections that go beyond the surface.
Robinson’s experience in the program and his vision for its future are closely related. One goal moving forward is expansion of the curriculum and looking to other areas at UGA that can become a part of the program, broadening the ways that the Cortona program reaches out to the rest of the university.
As the new program director (appointed in January 2011), Robinson is hopeful that curriculum integration will also pave the way for more graduate students from the school of art and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences to study in Cortona. “For the global climate we’re in today, I think it’s vital for students to have a studies abroad experience – and particularly for art students to incorporate this cultural exchange in an atmosphere where art is an everyday experience.”
“I want the basis of this transition to be continuity in the Cortona program – that is, to continue to find new ways to cement the connection between our program and the town of Cortona,” Robinson said. “Through our exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops and many other interactions, we want to find new ways to refresh and renew this relationship between the program and its very gracious hosts, the people of Cortona.”