In 2023, Meredith College offered its first spring break study abroad program in Italy. Now, the quilt created by students in that class has a new home in the Palazzo Alberti, Meredith’s site in Sansepolcro.
Students in the course, “Intersections: Math, Art, and Italy,” met weekly during the semester, including 11 days of travel to Italy. Most of the 11 students in the class were Mathematics majors. The instructors for the class were Mathematics faculty members Tim Hendrix and Julie Kolb and Visual Art Professor Emerita Rebecca Bailey.
“The focus of the class was the inseparable connection between artistic practice and innovation with mathematical principles during the Renaissance,” said Bailey.
Italy was an ideal location for this subject area.
Student Mei Li Moo King,’23, said her favorite parts of the program were “finally seeing historical landmarks after learning about them, learning about how math intersects with art, and learning about [Sansepolcro native] Piero della Francesca’s contributions to mathematics.”
In the class, students learned about linear perspective and the mathematical basis for repeating patterns, seeing examples of this throughout Italy.
“They followed up their observations with hands-on practice doing drawings using rules of linear perspective,” Bailey said. “Students also observed the many examples of repetition of patterns that they saw in Rome in works thousands of years old, in Renaissance art and architecture everywhere we traveled and in the structures that line the streets in Sansepolcro.”
One of the class assignments was to design and create a quilt square using patterns, a new experience for many of them. Kolb also created a square.
“Each square was inspired by a photograph that the students took during our travel time. Of the 11 students in the class, only three had ever sewn,” said Kolb. “I sewed the quilt together after we returned from Italy and had the quilt professionally quilted.”
The class donated their final project to be displayed in the Palazzo Alberti. It was unveiled in its new home this summer.
Safa Ahmed, ’23, is pleased that the quilt is on display in the palazzo, illustrating the relationships built in the class.
“The quilt holds so many memories, not only of the places and structures that we were inspired by but also of the long days and nights we all spent planning and designing and working on it,” Ahmed said. “Before the class, most of us were strangers, but the trip created a bond between us. The quilt is like a physical representation of that bond.”
Alexis Moseley, ’25, took inspiration from the class’s visit to Deruta, Italy. “I was just so amazed by all the different hand-painted ceramics and colors that I had taken several pictures of ceramics that I had seen,” Moseley said.
Wanjiru Mambo, ’24, said the class taught her design thinking or “how to use the power of imagination and creative thinking to translate an idea to a piece of art.” She was inspired by an art piece in the Museo Civico di Sansepolcro but tweaked the colors to represent her experiences in Italy.
“The choice of colors is also a significant part of the quilt. The green and red are borrowed from the colors of the Italian flag and are symbolic of my appreciation for Italian culture while the yellow represents the vibrance of Sansepolcro and the surrounding community,” Mambo said.
Moseley hopes the quilt is inspiring to future students who visit the Palazzo Alberti.
“When we visited the palazzo we saw what other students created during their time there, so it is really nice to have that same thing for future students when they visit,” Moseley said. “They will be able to see our quilt and read about all of our inspirations and how well it came together in the end.”
The Office of International Programs plans to offer another spring break study abroad program to Sansepolcro in March 2024. This program will be connected with a spring semester class on Shakespeare and race.