VOLUME 23 #1

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Vitale working on his project
Photo courtesy of Christian Vitale
Cristian Vitale in Argentina working on the platform area of “Extensions.”

Artist abroad

University funds art student's experience of a lifetime

OUR STUDENTS | Joy. Dejection. Then profound gratitude. Cristian Vitale, AS15, experienced all of these emotions and so much more after being invited to participate in one of the largest art exhibitions in South America.

“The invitation was such a rare opportunity for someone my age, but there was no way I could have afforded to accept it,” said Vitale, a fine arts major from Newark, Delaware, who was one of a small handful of students in the world invited to attend the fourth End of the World Biennial, a contemporary art exhibition in Argentina.

Vitale's sculpture, Extensions
Photo courtesy of Christian Vitale
Above, “Extensions,” Vitale’s sculpture of 4,000 hanging fingers.

Seeking financial assistance, Vitale reached out to the College of Arts and Sciences. “I know the University invests a lot in its students,” he says, “and I was hopeful they could help me with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

They did.

“Given many of the other international artists invited to represent their countries are mid-career artists, this was really quite an extraordinary opportunity for Cristian,” says Joann Browning, theatre professor and senior associate dean for the arts in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). “The college is committed to enhancing student learning and engagement, and we were glad to support Cristian on this discovery learning journey.”

Vitale left for Argentina on Sunday, Nov. 16, and returned nearly one month later. His experience abroad was funded by generous support from the CAS Office of the Dean, Office of the Provost, Department of Art and Office of Undergraduate Research.

“As all the artists and curators were tossed into this project and unfamiliar country, we created a community in which everyone made genuine efforts to help one another,” Vitale said. “I soon realized the incredible impact of bringing together these exhibitions lies in the connections that we make to build broader ties across the world.”

During his time abroad, Vitale worked with renowned Italian art curator Vittoria Biasi on a project that explored the “condition of man.” His project examined “sacred spaces we create after experiencing death.”

Drawing from elements of Buddhism and inspiration from Michelangelo, Vitale sculpted over 4,000 hanging fingers. Using a hidden source of light, his exhibition aimed to “create a moment in space where it seems that divine light is raining down onto us.”

Vitale developed the concept shortly after losing his mother to cancer three years ago.

“When she passed, the University became my family,” he says. “If it weren’t for school—for my friends and professors and for the work that has kept me focused and allowed me to channel my emotions and creativity—I don’t know what I would have done.”

Three days after returning from Argentina, Vitale embarked upon another journey to Cambodia as a Plastino Scholar.

He is now getting ready to exhibit his work at the 2015 Venice Biennial in Italy.

“I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be in this position,” he says. “I am so thankful for the University to help me on this path, and I look forward to one day being able to help other students who need it.”

Article by Artika Casini, AS05

The David A. Plastino Scholars Fund was established in 2006 through a generous gift from David Plastino, AS78. The fund was created to help outstanding University of Delaware undergraduate students realize their dreams by supporting them in self-designed, off-campus learning experiences that create a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.

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