College of Art and Architecture
phone: (208) 885-4409
fax: (208) 885-9428
College of Art & Architecture
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2461
Moscow, ID 83844-2461
phone: (208) 334-2999
Discoveries of the Mind
By Karen Hunt
Once upon time, in a land far away, there was villa, tucked among green rolling hills and rich vineyards. It was a villa so exquisite that anyone who dared to live there not only fell in love with the place, but also left a legacy and story that would last hundreds of years.
Each owner who occupied the villa tried to outdo the previous owner by creating an area of the villa even more grand than anyone before had imagined. Its pristine marbled fountains, pools and stone walls with gargoyles mirrored that of ancient Roman palaces.
The Villa Bitricci, located in the foothills of the Italian Alps was home to royalty, aristocrats and scholars. It was the base of many poems and stories and was occupied until WWII, when it was bombed and destroyed.
However, this place does not exist. Neither does the co-inhabitants of the villa or their stories. They only exist in University of Idaho art professor David Giese’s mind.
“I created this mythical place in Italy, from which I excavate its ruins,” says Giese.
For the last 33 years, Giese has taught art at the University of Idaho. He has been working on his art work, entitled “Excavations from the Villa Bitricci,” for almost the same amount of time.
Giese maps out a blueprint for his artwork by scanning historical photographs of Italy, cutting them up and then piecing them back together out of order to create a fictional place. After he creates a concept for his work, he develops the ruins. Giese uses thermal concrete that is designed to repair freeways to form his own molds, and then casts the concrete, gluing the pieces together with expandable foam that seals the concrete pieces together.
“It’s a matter of casting the pieces and then arranging each piece as the story unfolds,” says Giese.
He considers himself a reconstructionist, borrowing heavily from the post-modern movement and Italian mannerism.
Giese’s work is on display at the University of Idaho’s Prichard Art Gallery, located on Main Street in Moscow, as part of the annual faculty art exhibit.
“The purpose of the faculty show is to not only inform the students, but the University and Moscow communities that art faculty is doing research in art,” says Giese. “I take pride in the fact that my peers also are extremely good artists.”
While art professors may not be seen as researchers, a large amount of their time is devoted to researching techniques and processes used to craft their artwork. For Giese, his research lies in developing a strong knowledge base of European aesthetics and then tweaking them to create a specific piece of art.
“I invented the process of molding and casting the concrete through a seed grant,” says Giese. “I receive the concrete from a company in St. Louis, Mo., and work with their chemists to be able to cast the concrete at 8/12 of an inch thick.”
While research and creating artwork keeps him busy, Giese also enjoys teaching his art students. During his 33 years at the University of Idaho, he has taught nearly 6,000 students.
In Giese’s classroom, he guides and mentors his students, allowing them a critical, but safe environment to succeed or fail. He teaches the importance of generating new concepts from which new ideas will spring forward.
“To be successful as a teacher, you put your students on the road to self discovery,” says Giese. “I like to witness those moments of self discovery that are so crucial for teaching. Students get to the point where they initiate the problems and create their own answers.”
Homepage promo: The Adulation of Flowers, Attended by Spring and Summer from the Piano Noble of The Palazzo Zuccari. 2008. 85 x 68 x 12 inches.