The Rome Gateway announces third appointment with the Rome Book Club

Author: Costanza Montanari

The Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway, in partnership with the Centre for Italian Studies, the Notre Dame Alumni Association, and the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, are launching the third appointment with the Rome Book Club titled Journey to Italy – Viaggio in Italia.

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Starting on May 6, “Raphael’s School of Athens: The Medium and the Message” will last three weeks and will be led by Associate Professor David Mayernik from the School of Architecture. Mayernik is a practicing urban designer, architect, artist, and writer whose work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and has painted frescoes there, for a church in Tuscany, and his own buildings for the TASIS campus in Switzerland. He currently teaches with the University of Notre Dame in Rome focusing on the design process, drawing, and the integration of history and theory.

The School of Athens, Raphael’s fresco of ancient philosophers under a vaulted hall, is one of the most famous and influential paintings of the Renaissance. It is both a brilliant articulation of philosophical systems and a sophisticated display of fresco technique. Understanding how medium and message were intertwined in Raphael’s world will open up a window onto the culture of the High Renaissance, where artistic craft and humanist thought went hand in hand.

“In this series, we’ll get to know Raphael better, from his beginning in Urbino where he was born, through his years in Florence where he went to test himself and grow as an artist and finally his years in Rome, where he was called by Pope Julius II,” says Mayernik. 

“We will then dig in the fresco painting process,” continues Mayernik. “What were the materials involved, how did the artist prepare and paint on the wall? Following along as I paint a fresco copy of a figure from the School of Athens will bring the ancient process to life.”

During the third week, the participants will come to terms with the School of Athens itself: how it was painted, and what it means. Participants will learn about the perspective of the architectural space, and the organization of the groups of figures within it, finally looking at two figures in particular. 

Mayernik will be accompanied in this journey by two extraordinary guest speakers: Professor Ingrid Rowland and Professor Richard Piccolo. 

Rowland writes and lectures on Classical Antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Age of the Baroque as well as being a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. She is also the author of “The intellectual background of the School of Athens: tracking divine wisdom in the Rome of Julius II” chapter in the book “Raphael’s School of Athens,” which is edited by Marcia Hall.

Professor Piccolo, who will join the conversation in the second live meeting, is a painter living and working in Italy. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe and the U.S. and he has painted murals for The Crown American Corp., The US Bank Plaza building in Sacramento and the Hotel Pierre in New York City. Prof. Piccolo is currently teaching drawing and watercolor at Rome Global Gateway as well as holding the position of director of the Pratt Institute Architecture Rome Program. 

“It is only fitting that Professors Mayernik, Rowland and Piccolo will be the protagonists of the new Rome book club series, given the longstanding tradition of the School of Architecture presence in Rome. We are grateful for their willingness to share their expertise with the growing number of Rome book club members and friends” says Silvia Dall’Olio, Executive Director of the Rome Global Gateway.

“Raphael’s School of Athens: The Medium and the Message” will include commentaries, videos, and a fresco workshop by Prof. Mayernik, and weekly interactive Zoom sessions. The program is free and open to all, and is hosted exclusively on ThinkND, Notre Dame’s open, online learning community brought to you by the Alumni Association.


Originally published by Costanza Montanari at on April 14, 2021.