Orange Alert

Art World Converges in Syracuse for Renaissance Art Symposium Oct. 18

Symposium marks 50th anniversary of Syracuse’s Florence Program, retirement of director Gary M. Radke ‘73

Sept. 25, 2014, by Rob Enslin

A view of Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo, in Florence, Italy.
A view of Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo, in Florence, Italy.

The 2014 Syracuse Symposium continues its semester-long look at “Perspective” with a major symposium on Italian Renaissance Art.

On Saturday, Oct. 18, the College of Arts and Sciences will present “New Perspectives on Renaissance Art” from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. in 132 Lyman Hall. The symposium marks the 50th anniversary of the Florence Graduate Program in Renaissance Art, as well as the retirement of its longtime director, Gary M. Radke ’73.

Events are free and open to the public. To register, contact Ardean Orr in the Department of Art & Music Histories (AMH) at 315-443-4184 or

A welcoming reception will be held for registered participants on Friday, Oct. 17, from 4-6 p.m. in the Lyman Hall Lobby.

Gary RadkeGary M. Radke '73
The purpose of the symposium is to consider multiple perspectives on the production and interpretation of Italian Renaissance Art,” says Radke, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and professor of art history. “Our presenters will discuss recent discoveries and interpretations of written and visual evidence, revealing how men and women sponsored, created, and interacted with works of art during the Italian Renaissance [c. 1300-1600]. We will also discuss themes of spirituality, ethics, patronage, gender, rhetoric, and collaborative practices.”

“New Perspectives on Renaissance Art” is co-sponsored by the 2014 Ray Smith Symposium, The Syracuse University Humanities Center, and AMH.

The program features more than a dozen internationally renowned museum professionals and teaching scholars, all of whom are alumni of the College’s Florence Program.

The schedule is as follows:

9:30 a.m.
Opening remarks by Radke

9:45-11:15 a.m.
“Changing Perceptions of Renaissance Art”

• Theresa Flanigan G’95, associate professor of art history at The College of Saint Rose
• Jill Carrington G’83, professor of art history at Stephen F. Austin State University
• Susan Dixon G’84, associate professor and chair of art history at La Salle University

11:15-11:45 a.m.
Coffee Break

11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
“Making Renaissance Art, Part I”

• Bryan Keene G’10, assistant curator at The J. Paul Getty Museum and adjunct professor of art history at Pepperdine University
• Renée Burnam G’81, author for Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (USA)

12:45-1:45 p.m.

1:45-2:45 p.m.
“Making Renaissance Art, Part II”

• Heather Nolin G’01, research associate and project manager of the Arthur Ross Collection at The Yale University Art Gallery
• Bradley J. Cavallo G’05, teaching assistant at Temple University

2:45-3:15 p.m.
Coffee break

3:15-4:45 p.m.
“Working and Living at Court”

• Sally J. Cornelison G’89, professor of Italian Renaissance art at The University of Kansas and director designate of Syracuse’s Florence Program
• Anne Proctor G’05, assistant professor of art and architectural history at Roger Williams University
• Molly Bourne G’88, coordinator of graduate and undergraduate art history at Syracuse University in Florence

4:45-5:15 p.m.
Plenary discussion
Sally J. Cornelison G'89 (above), director designate of Syracuse's Florence Program, is among the presenters at "New Perspectives on Renaissance Art."
Sally J. Cornelison G'89 (above), director designate of Syracuse's Florence Program, is among the presenters at "New Perspectives on Renaissance Art."
“New Perspectives on Renaissance Art” is the latest in a series of events marking the Florence Program's anniversary. In June, Radke led a weeklong alumni trip to Italy that included visits to various Florentine landmarks, as well as meetings with and presentations by Syracuse students and alumni. 

The only accredited M.A. art history program in North America to offer most of its coursework in Italy, the program requires students to take one semester on Syracuse’s Main Campus, followed by two semesters in Florence. At the latter, they conduct research at Villa I Tatti, home of the renowned Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies; the Kunsthistorisches Institut; and the Archivio di Stato.

Every fall, the Florence Program sponsors a public symposium, where each student delivers a 20-minute scholarly presentation. Radke, who founded the symposium series in 1986 (not long after taking over the Florence Program), says it helps promote Syracuse to the general public, while giving back to Florence, which “generously opens up its churches, museums, and libraries to our students.”

Since joining the Syracuse faculty in 1980, Radke has helped elevate the Florence Program to international prominence. In the process, he has established himself as one the world’s foremost authorities on Italian Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture. In 2001, he became a guest curator at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where he has since organized a handful of nationally touring shows of works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Ghiberti, Verrocchio, and other Italian masters.

Radke is currently working on an exhibition titled Make a Joyful Noise: Renaissance Art and Music at Florence Cathedral, opening this fall at the High and next spring at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Public events such as ‘Make a Joyful Noise’ and ‘New Perspectives on Renaissance Art’ exemplify the kinds of rigorous, hands-on work we do at Syracuse,” says Radke, a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. “They’re physical expressions of our commitment to the interdisciplinary study of art and music histories.”

At Syracuse, Radke has also served as chair of the AMH department and as director of the Honors Program. 

Since its inception in 1964, the Florence Program has provided students with broad and deep perspectives on the Renaissance. Many students go on to become successful curators, advisors, professors, journalists, urban designers, and conservators. For more information about the Florence Program, which is accepting applications for the 2015-16 academic year, visit

The Ray Smith Symposium Series was established in 1989, the result of a bequest from the estate of Ray W. Smith '21 to support symposia on topics in the humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences. The symposium is named for the Auburn, N.Y. native who, after graduating from Syracuse, became a highly respected teacher and administrator.

Launched in 2001, Syracuse Symposium has become a fall tradition at SU, drawing thousands of people to free lectures, panel discussions, performances, and exhibitions built on annual themes. Past symposia include “Listening,” “Identity,” “Conflict: Peace and War,” “Migration,” “Justice,” and “Light.”

The Humanities Center, founded in 2008, fosters public engagement in the humanities. The center is home to the Central New York Humanities Corridor; the Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship program; the HC Mini-Seminar and Syracuse Symposium Seminar series; the HC Library Series and other research initiatives, annual fellowships and public programming.

Media Contact

Rob Enslin