Hayden Anderson: Italia as Text 2022

Roma as Text

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on May 18th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson

Rome is the most spectacular city in the world. No other place immerses you in the culture and history to the extent that you feel as if you were a Roman yourself. Drinking from fountains in the street spewing water from the infamous aqueducts, strolling along the decadent piazzas during the passeggiata, and feasting on traditional dishes allows me to truly walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans. The ancient and modern world are so intertwined here that you can have a 2000 year old historic monument and a cell phone store on the same street; it’s incredible. Every piazza and street have their own niche traits that add to the unique atmosphere of the city. I could spend a lifetime in Rome, and it still wouldn’t be enough. 

Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum was built in 70 AD by Vespasian and was finalized in 80 AD by his son Titus. It is an absolute architectural masterpiece. It is astounding that they were able to create a structure of that size without electricity and in the span of only 10 years. Romans were extremely inventive for their time to say the least. The Colosseum is a perfect depiction of human nature, and our morbid sense of humor, in the sense that they built a massive amphitheater with impeccable columns and towering arches just to watch people slaughter each other. They even created trap doors that released blood-hungry animals on the unlucky individuals for pure entertainment . Their ingenuity, as barbaric as it may be, is incredible. Despite destruction of the exterior structure, it continues to stand as a triumphant symbol of Ancient Rome. 

Pompeii as Text: Divine Feminine

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on May 18th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson

Like many other re-discovered ancient cities, Pompeii emerged from the ash in 1748. The city was frozen in time for 17 centuries covered by debris from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. This catastrophic event killed around 2000 Pompeiians and devastated the city and surrounding areas. While the lava destroyed all wooden elements, a large portion of the internal brick and stone structures remained intact. The destruction that the eruption caused is undoubtedly sorrowful, but it also helped to preserve the modern (for its time) city allowing us to have to further study the lives of ancient Pompeiians. The architectural resilience is absolutely astounding given that it was constructed more than 2 millennia ago.

Nestled on the outskirts of Pompeii, the Villa of Mysteries houses one of the most incredible pieces of ancient art I’ve ever seen. Spanning over three walls, the fresco depicts the transition of a woman as she embarks on a rite of passage into a cult. While this is the most popular interpretation, the painting itself is subjective. When looked upon through the female eye, we can see a woman emerging into her true self and fully embracing her femininity. The fluidity of her poses is absolutely divine and truly captures the essence of her new-found self-expression. In the beginning of the painting, on the left side, we see the woman concealed by her clothing, being shielded by her innocence. Her body language is timid as though she is hiding from herself. As we move our eyes to the center of the painting, we see the woman talking to another female who appears to be someone of higher power given her decadent clothing and assertive posture. The woman, who has shed some of her coverings, still displays a lack of confidence based on downward gaze. As we are drawn to the third wall, we can see that the woman now holds herself proudly with her scarf billowing around her, finally basking in her liberation. The transformation throughout the painting is a beautiful tale of self-discovery and femininity. Having withstood the hands of time, and a natural disaster, the fresco encompasses the triumphs and perseverance of women through the centuries. Mother Nature is, after all, a woman.

Author: Hande018

Hayden Anderson is an Honors College student at FIU studying marketing with hopes to go into the fashion industry. Hayden wants to travel the world to experience as many cultures as possible. She enjoys taking pictures, thrift shopping, and reading books. Her goal is to create a non-profit that helps underprivileged girls where a portion of the proceeds from her clothing line will go. She defines success as knowing she helped as many people as she could.

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