They say you can’t take it with you. For the three Spartan artists in Siena, Italy, this summer – creating installations they knew they’d leave behind at summer’s end – that was OK.

The inspiration, the memories and the lessons they learned in Italy will inspire them for a lifetime.

Anna Stewart, Alison Lindley and Emily Clark-Kramer took part in the educational adventure, led by UNCG Art Professor Barbara Campbell-Thomas. It was funded by the Globally Engaged Undergraduate Research and Creativity Award through UNCG’s Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office

Fact is, if you’re an admirer of abstract art from throughout the centuries, Siena is your art mecca. The students’ studio at Siena Art Institute, with a breathtaking view over the tile roofs of the city, was a short walk from major art attractions.

The art they produced in the studio was site-specific. It was created for that unique space. There was no reason to bring it home. But they took away a lot more.

“I grew as an artist during that month,” Clark-Kramer said, with enhanced appreciation for abstract art. She will graduate in December, and she explained that it has helped prepare her for graduate school on the West Coast.

She had been to Italy once, but never Siena. “Being at Italy at that particular time – we were able to visit Florence and Rome and the Biennial (in Venice) – that was amazing, to see contemporary artists, to see what is ‘huge’ in Venice.”

Stewart entered graduate studies at New York University this fall. She wants to be a creative art therapist and have her own studio.

Lindley, who explored the use of soil and brick of Siena in an interactive installation, is now a graduate student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Campbell-Thomas explained that the exposure to art beyond the United States can change a young artist’s life. It inspires and broadens their perspective.

“It was real and impactful. You can see people change,” she said. “They were energized.”

  • Learn more about UNCG undergraduate research opportunities at
  • See the exhibition “Big Vision: UNCG Art Students Make Art Abroad,” in the Gatewood Building through Nov. 25.


Story by Mike Harris, University Relations
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Relations