Amy Clark Knapp, adjunct instructor of Art History and Western Civilization at Clark State Community College, has been awarded a Community College Humanities Association Affiliated Fellowship in Rome. The organization awards one fellowship annually. “I applied for the fellowship in January,” said Knapp. “I was notified February 17, the same day that I received an Excellence in Teaching Award (from Clark State); wow, that was quite a day!”
Knapp has been teaching at Clark State for eight years. Under the fellowship award she will travel to Rome, Italy, on May 18. This is Knapp’s first fellowship, but she spent a month in Italy in 2012 researching the Etruscans and early Roman civilization. She said her objective on this trip is to submerge herself in study and utilize opportunities and resources to advance or finish her research.
“The bulk of my post-graduate research has been in artistic visual communication; identifying simplistic and complex artistic symbolism, determining and interpreting comprehensive meanings and sometimes revealing subtle or clandestine messages,” said Knapp. “My objective is to identify the symbolic iconography used on Etruscan sarcophagi and its message, and validate its audience.” She explained that part of understanding the iconography is understanding its origins.
The Etruscans were the first civilization on the Italian peninsula. Knapp explained that many things people think of as "Roman" were actually inspired by the Etruscans. “Until the last few centuries, art had a greater purpose; art wasn't just simple decoration,” said Knapp. “Art told stories; inspired faith, respect and fear; and reflected the socio-political atmosphere of its society. Symbolic iconography is the use of specific icons to convey a message to an audience; often times, as with the Etruscans, it was a very specific audience.”
The fellowship will assist Knapp with airfare and provide housing and two meals per day at the esteemed American Academy in Rome where ‘fellows’ have the opportunity to utilize the library, museum and its associates for their research. She will stay at the Academy for four weeks and also have access to various antiquities collections and libraries in Rome, including the Capitoline Museum and the Vatican, along with collections in Florence and Orvieto.
Knapp will collaborate with other academics studying via fellowship from other organizations. “I always find it amazing how colleagues who study a seemingly different subject, can shine a new light or bring a fresh perspective to your research,” she said. “I really anticipate the opportunity to brainstorm with these brilliant folks.”
Knapp hopes to bring back to her students a more educated, enlightened and inspired instructor. “A lot of times, in academia, people spend a great deal of time researching tiny details,” she said. “These ‘tiny details’ vibrantly illustrate human history and help us to understand and connect with cultures of the past. They were people like you and me, with passions, beliefs, hopes and fears. Perhaps by understanding our past, we can step into the future a little more enlightened.”