Raffaella Losito explores the digital side of creativity.
Raffaella Losito is one of nearly 400 students in the University of Urbino’s “Accademia di Belle Arti,” the Academy of Fine Arts. But her hands are not covered in dried clay; there are no smudges of charcoal on her cheeks. Instead of pencils, chalk, and pastels, she makes her illustrations and images using complex cameras, video clips, and a MacBook Pro.
Raffaella is specializing in New Technology of Art, an increasingly popular course of study in Italy. In Urbino, she is part of a small, unconventional group that brings a modern approach and digital influences to a city whose centuries of art history include such giants as Raphael, Santi, Bramante, Piero della Francesca, and Laurana.
Before coming to Urbino, Raffaella studied architectural drawing at Istituto Statale d’Arte di Corato, now called Liceo Artistico Federico II. Her college career began at the Academy of Art in Bari, where she studied decoration, but she soon moved to the Rome University of Fine Arts for a two-month course in photography. In these early stages of training, she felt that neither the professors nor the curriculum aligned with her interests.
Then Urbino came into the picture, and the young artist felt she had found her place. Raffaella likes the Art Academy in Urbino more than the schools she previously attended because there are fewer students, which, she believes, leads to a more thorough education. “The studies are more direct,” she explains, “but the students are free to express.” She adds that Urbino’s professors tend to be younger than those in the other universities, and this is helpful when studying art that is so heavily influenced by technology.
New Technology student Irene Guarino agrees about Urbino’s advantages. “There are better materials and equipment,” she says, explaining that students in the Academy have access to great resources such as advanced photography gear, a wide variety of raw materials needed for different types of art, and many knowledgeable professors.
Jana Radovio, an Academy student from Belgrade, Serbia, says that Urbino is dynamic and inspiring, offering the best of a city atmosphere as well as the beauty of its natural surroundings. “Urbino is dynamic,” she says. “There are so many young people that are full of wishes and energy for living.”
Raffaella says she has been able to learn how to use her artistic abilities to better her technical communication skills. A large part of her major involves video, sound, graphics, and the Web. The students work on producing campaigns, advertisements, and conveying an idea on a digital screen or a piece of paper in an effective, artistic way.
Unlike some of her fellow art students, Raffaella comes from a practically-minded family that does not consider art to be a realistic path. Her eldest sister has just graduated in Bari with a degree in Foreign Languages and hopes to move to New Zealand, her brother works in hotel management in London, and her twin sister studies economics in Bari.
“When I decided to study in Urbino, my parents didn’t agree very much,” Raffaella says with a grin. “In particular my mother was a little scared of this thing. They think this because I am seen as the black sheep of the family.”
But being labeled the non-conformist does not dampen Raffaella’s passion for her art. She eagerly describes a big stop-motion project that she has just completed. After setting up a tripod, camera, and lighting equipment, she took more than four hundred photos to produce 38 seconds of video. Seated in front of her MacBook, she pulls up and plays a series of video clips, her face lighting up as she races through the scenes.
She is especially excited to share a documentary she produced in Germany a year ago. In the three-and-a-half minute piece, she combined a creative concept, energetic research, and skillful video editing (with the assistance of Luca Dionisi). The result: a collection of faces and voices that explores the differences between East and West Berlin.
Three years ago, as a new a student at the university, Raffaella heard Umberto Palestini, former director of Accademia di Belle Arti di Urbino, make an odd statement. “Urbino,” he said, “is like a gold prison.” Although she was puzzled at the time, now she thinks she understands.
“Urbino is a very beautiful place to be, but at times it can feel small,” she says. “Being a student in Urbino can be difficult. It is a difficult experience because it changes you.” In February, after graduating with a First Level Course Diploma from the Academic School of New Technologies of Art (Multimedia), Raffaella says it will be time to say goodbye to Urbino.
New Zealand is her primary destination because she feels the job market is better than in Italy and she wants to study English. And after that? Raffaella hopes to be able to travel the world and continue to make her videos, photos, and other multimedia projects. The black sheep, non-conformist seems sure to keep moving ahead. Even after Urbino changes you, she says, “You have to keep changing.”