Permanent Staff In Athens, Georgia
Christopher 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.”
After graduating from the College of William & Mary in 1994 with a BA in Fine Art, Kristine Schramer studied at the New York Academy of Art and the Art Students League of New York before earning her MFA in Painting from Indiana University Bloomington in 1998. Prior to joining the UGA Cortona team in 2013, she was an Associate Professor of Fine Art and Foundation Studies at the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio, where she gained twelve years’ experience in teaching and working with honors, independent study, and graduate students.
The daughter of a U.S Naval officer, Kristine lived in Italy several times during her childhood. Her first experience with study abroad came as a Monroe Scholar at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, when she attended the Ecole Albert Defois in France during the summer after her junior year. As a graduate student, she participated in Indiana University’s study abroad program in Florence, Italy during the summer of 1996, and the following year returned to the same program as an Associate Instructor of Drawing. In 2000 she received a painting award from the National Society of Arts and Letters that enabled her to travel and work in Poland. In 2003 and 2005 she received grants to study and paint in Italy; also in 2005, she was a finalist for a Fulbright junior research fellowship in Italy. In 2006 she led a group of Columbus College of Art & Design students in a study abroad program on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Kristine is a practicing and exhibiting painter whose works are included in the collections of the College of William & Mary and the City of Bloomington, Indiana. Images of her work can be found at www.kschramer.com.
Mary VanNus is Administrative Specialist for the Cortona office. She earned her undergraduate degree from Berry College with a concentration in Family and Consumer Science and Interior Design. Mary has been with the Study Abroad office since 2001 and traveled to Cortona in Fall 2007.
As Science Maymester Coordinator Ben Reynolds works year round with faculty and staff to construct the program’s itinerary. When the students arrive in Italy he oversees the group, making sure that things run smoothly. Ben received his MFA in Photography from the University of Georgia in 1996 and has been a faculty member there since 1999.
Sydney is an Administrative Associate for the Cortona office. She directly assists students with applying for the program and preparing students to study in Cortona. As an undergraduate art student, Sydney studied in Cortona in the Fall of 2007 and earned her master’s degree in Fine Arts from UGA in 2012.
Permanent Staff In Cortona, Italy
Enza Valente is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish and earned her degree as Interpreter and Translator in English and French in 1987 at the Scuola Superiore per e Traduttori of Rome. She currently manages the office in Cortona, Italy and serves as liason with Cortona city officials, banks, authorities and suppliers.