Jordana Reece Paints the Cityscape of Old Venice

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A new exhibit opening at the James Ford Bell Library, "Celebrating Venice: On Land and Sea," includes nine watercolors by graphic design student Jordana Reece. The project, based on 15th century engravings by Erhard Reuwich, was set in motion when Reece visited the library with professor Barbara Martinson's History of Graphic Design course.


"I love old books, especially books with old maps, and was hooked on the spot," said Reece. The library's collection consists of more than 25,000 items in the form of books, maps, manuscripts, pamphlets, broadsides, and assorted printed documents from 400 C.E. to 1825 C.E. After the class fieldtrip, Reece approached Margaret Borg, assistant curator at the library, about doing a UROP with one of the collection.

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Borg was in the process of developing the Venice exhibit, inspired by Berhard von Breydenbach's Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam (1486), the first illustrated travel book to be printed, and an engraving of Venice done by Edward Reuwich. She wanted to show the history of Venice as a major maritime power, a staging area for crusades and pilgrim travel, a city renowned for early printing, and a flourishing trade center between Western Europe and the rest of the world. After discussing the project together, she commissioned Jordana to develop an interpretation of the Venice cityscape based off the Reuwich engraving.

Venice-JReece-InProcess.jpgCreating the paintings was an in-depth, time consuming process. Reece took photos of the original engravings, then printed out black and white prints for tracing and used a light box on her computer to re-draw the images in ink on watercolor paper. "I wanted the painting to look like a hazy sunset so that the painted version would be reminiscent of the time frame of the original," she said, "but also because that is the impression of Venice both Margaret and I remember from our travels in Italy."

She has previously exhibited work in her hometown of Alexandria, MN, but found the Venice exhibit especially exciting because it honors history and work done by others to preserve the craftsmanship of artists from the past.  Along with appearing in the exhibit, her work is included on promotional material and other related lectures and events that will take place throughout the semester.

Reece will graduate with a BFA in Graphic Design in 2013 and hopes to obtain a graphic design position in the Twin Cities.

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