Documentary Drawing in Italy

Program Overview

This study abroad program is an exploration in observational location drawing. Students will learn the fundamental ways to see and record the world around them in sketchbooks while using variety of materials.  This course is designed to help students develop skills of visual observation, mark making and storytelling. Students will also gain an insight into how we understand the making and ideas behind art, design and architecture though the study of cultural and historical factors inherent in these cities in Italy. Particular sites will be chosen to allow students to produce a series of drawings. Daily drawing times will be scheduled to complete the work, with direction by the faculty member. The outcome of this course of study will be the works collected in sketchbooks and an additional summary project. The course will be taught by Professor Barry Fitzgerald.

The program’s purpose is to provide students with a complete immersion into Italian culture. Through the means of drawing, journaling, photography and video, students will be exposed to a diverse spectrum of experiences while visiting the cities of Rome, Siena, Florence and Venice. Such experiences will juxtapose the surprising and ever-evolving contemporary Italian street culture to the quintessential Italian culture of art, design and architecture.  Program participants will visit historical sites and contemporary art collections and will take advantage of current exhibitions in each city.



Rome (6 days)
Students will visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the outdoor market at Campo de’Fiori and the Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum and Colosseum, among other sites. While visiting these quintessential historic places, students will also observe contemporary culture and life that exists beyond and in between these infamous spaces and places. Off-the-beaten-path walking tours and excursions will enable students to see and understand the diversity and complexity of Italy in the 21st century.

Siena (4 days)
Siena, which was founded by the Etruscans, is a magnificent city known for its medieval and gothic architecture and early Renaissance art. The city is located in the heart of Tuscany, approximately forty-five minutes south of Florence by train. For two hundred years, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Siena was one of the major cities of Europe. A walled medieval city, it is considered to be one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy and in Europe and is unusually rich in art, architecture and cultural traditions for a city its size. In Siena, participants will research and document the symbols and applications found in 16 neighborhoods.
Florence (4 days)
Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, today Florence is home to an amazing collection of Renaissance art and architecture. Among the many sites we will visit, students will see Michelangelo’s sculpture of David at the Galleria dell'Accademia, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, The Basilica of San Miniato, and the Uffizi Gallery.
Venice (5 days)
Students will visit modern & contemporary art collections at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the Pinault collection at the Punta della Dogana, which was renovated by the Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. Visits in Venice will include the Grand Canal, the Piazza, Basilica and museum of San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, San Giorgio Maggiore, site of the last painting by Tintoretto, and the Baroque church of Santa Maria delle Salute. The group will also visit a variety of artisan craft workshops, and visit the colorful fishing village of Burano.
Program Faculty
Barry Fitzgerald is a Professor of Illustration at the University of Kansas. He has taught a variety of drawing and illustration courses at KU since 1993. His clients include The New York Times, Playboy Jazz Festival, Vagrant Records, McGraw-Hill Publishing, among others. His illustrations have received over 100 national and international awards. His images have been in over 65 juried and invitational exhibitions, including shows in New York, Los Angeles, and London.

Academic Program

Students must enroll in 6 hours for the program.
ADS 532 Study Abroad: Documentary Drawing in Italy (3 credits)
ADS 533 Study Abroad Documentation (3 credits)
Prior to the study abroad program there will be multiple required orientation meetings and group presentations based on research into the history and culture of each city. All work for credit should to be completed during the Fall semester 2015.

ADS 532 Study Abroad: Documentary Drawing in Italy - (3 credit hours)
Students will meet prior to the trip for an overview of the course objectives, projects and expectations. All drawings will be completed on location in a dedicated sketchbook. We will visit cathedrals, churches, museums, galleries, and historically significant public spaces in Rome, Siena, Florence, and Venice.

ADS 533 Study Abroad Documentation (3 credit hours)
Students will complete a post-trip project consisting of multiple images that conceptually and aesthetically develop, refine and expand on the work generated on the trip. Mandatory attendance for all scheduled meetings after the trip will be required.        



Participants will stay in centrally located hotels in Rome, Siena, Florence and Venice. Hotel Rooms are double, triple and quad occupancy. Continental breakfast is included daily.

Open to undergraduate or graduate design, architecture and visual art students from any accredited U.S. college or university. Priority will be given to KU students. Minimum 2.5 GPA required (exceptions considered after submission of a petition).  

Funding your Study Abroad Program
The Office of Study Abroad can do personalized financial aid and scholarship advising for students.  Please visit 108 Lippincott Hall or call 785-864-3742 to set up an appointment.  KU students who qualify for financial aid in the form of Stafford and/or other loans, Federal Grants, and KU or outside scholarships may apply the aid to the cost of a Study Abroad Program.  
KU Study Abroad supplemental scholarships are available to KU degree seeking students. Applications are available online. The scholarship application deadline is March 1 for Summer and Fall and Academic Year programs and October 1 for Spring, Winter Break and Spring Break programs.
For additional scholarship opportunities visit:
Scholarships are available for some Design majors for this program. Check with your design advisor for details.

Application Procedures

All applicants will be required to complete several documents for each study abroad application. Below is a list of documents that will need to be completed for an application.
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Verification of Minimum GPA Requirement
  • Unofficial Transcript or Advising Report
  • Two General Recommendations
  • Authorization to Release Student Information
  • Student Conduct Verification
  • Financial Aid Questionnaire

For more detailed information about the application process, please visit our Application Process page.