Ruhma Khan
Mercury Staff

Professor of visual and performing arts Mark Rosen was recently elected as president of the Italian Art Society. 

Founded in 1987, The Italian Art Society is a foundation dedicated to the study and promotion of Italian art and architecture. It is made up of a few hundred members who are art historians, museum professionals and academics.

Rosen, an associate dean in the school of arts and humanities, said he has always been passionate about art and art history.

“I always was really interested in artworks and painting. I grew up in Los Angeles and spent a lot of time in museums and I took the AP Art History class in high school and I really loved it. I felt it was something that kind of came naturally,” Rosen said. “I was so excited to learn that stuff. And when I would travel or go places, I would always check out the museum.”

Rosen said the year after graduating with a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, he began working with his university’s travel guide.

“Berkeley started up this thing called the Berkeley Guides travel company that they needed students to go travelling (for).  I graduated at the exact perfect time. They only did this for three years,” Rosen said. “One year, I did an editing job with them and then the next year I went to travel. They were doing an Italy book, it was the very first time they had done it so it all had to be written from the ground up.” 

Rosen said he spent the majority of the 75-day trip in central Italy, visiting and writing about museums, restaurants and the historical and cultural significance of many of the sites.

“I also had to write the historical and cultural sections of these travel guides. Not just tips (about) ‘How do you line up?’ Or ‘What time does it open?’ But also the history of the building,” Rosen said.

Working for as a travel writer for his University’s travel guide, Rosen said, was crucial to his experience and interest in Italian art.

“I was there [during] a good time,” Rosen said. “It was summer, the dollar was strong, I sort of had to see things and eat and I had to be out there on my feet and doing everything.”

Rosen said he later returned to Italy as a postgrad to do research in Florence and now travels to Italy around twice a year.

Biology junior Pratima Gangupantula said Rosen was her guide for a week in Rome during a study abroad trip. 

 “While we were there, we went to several different religious and historical sites and most of them, if not all of them, had a ton of historical art which Dr. Rosen spoke about at great length,” Gangupantula said.

Economics and political science Senior Chetan Reddy said Rosen showed them art they had seen before in a new light.

“We saw Raphael’s ‘School of Athens,’ we saw Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. These are works of art that we’ve analyzed in high school before, but when he took us there to see it in person and pointed out things we’ve never seen before or things we never would’ve noticed,” Reddy said. “It was really cool how he was able to take works of art that we’ve already looked at multiple times and still point out things that we’ve never seen.”

Rosen said he has been member of the society for nearly a decade, after being recruited by a colleague, and has served in various offices over the years.

“It’s really easy to join, it’s not like we make it hard for people. I also wanted to be part of it and that’s essentially it,” Rosen said. “It’s been fun and I’ve met all these great people that I’m in touch every day with from it.”

Rosen said he finds the organization to be a collaborative community with mentors helping younger scholars excel in the field.

“It’s really amazing: we do mentoring and have an Emerging Scholars Committee (for) people who are finishing a Ph.D., or just having finished, kind of at the beginning of their careers. That’s been very lively recently, really good younger scholars come in and have been mentored by more senior people,” Rosen said. “I really liked that program. I think the people that have been involved in (it) recently have been outstandingly good.  It maybe the best thing we’ve done.”