Photo by Da'Shay Alexander
Article by Hannah Silver and Christina Wainwright


Excited laughter rings through the Corso Tintori 21 building from students, volunteers, and professors attending the Health and Wellness event. It is a rainy Thursday, May 3rd, at 6:00PM, and the room’s walls are covered with student photography, graphics, animations, and interior design pieces highlighting the importance of mental and physical well-being and the new initiative Florence University of the Arts plans to roll out in the next semesters to come. These initiatives include more courses in the Health and Wellness department and a new student run spa on campus.

Plenty of aperitif options decorate a white table cloth, but most of the attention of attendees is directed towards the work hanging on the walls--and for good reason. In order to better understand the meaning of the work, we chatted with several of the students.

First, we speak to a girl with blonde curls, a denim jacket and a yellow bandana that ties nicely around her neck. Her name is Isabelle Fall, and she is a video production major from Portland, Maine. She emphasizes that her birds-eye image of model Hannah Sanders was a personal piece for her Fashion Photography course.

We wanted to learn more about any challenges she faced during her project, to which Fall responds, “Honestly, it’s all about timing, especially in these classes where we are asking friends or classmates to be our models and they are doing it for free. It’s really hard to find a time that works for you, the model, and when the weather and light is good for shooting.” Fall justifies that this challenge was worthwhile, claiming she gets a sort of “high from composing things in a way that is pleasing to the eye.”

Fall hopes that first and foremost, audience members understand that fashion photography is not “all about being bougie,” but rather can be “casual and show everyday clothing like athletic wear.”

Perhaps the most interesting thing we grasped from our conversation with the bubbly photographer are her thoughts on the health and wellness field in correlation to photography: “Photography is a very easy to consume and appreciate. For instance, even those who cannot read can understand photography. I think topics in health and wellness are important so using photography to speak about these themes is very important and powerful.” She believes that students studying abroad at FUA may feel as though they are on vacation and may not take care of themselves properly, so the initiative is fundamental to the experience!

Second, we interview Fashion & Design student Da’Shay Alexander, from Seattle, Washington. She is wearing a vibrant yellow shirt to match her positive smile and easy demeanor. She explains her photography was for the Fashion photography course, one of her three fashion classes.

Alexander explains that her piece was chosen out of a pool of around
40 students, and that she was “thrilled” by the opportunity to showcase
her photography of two of her laughing friends. Although it was her first
time working with a camera and the advanced editing programs offered
by FUA, her goal was to “capture joy in [her] pictures by allowing
viewers to see the happiness of the models” in a raw, authentic fashion.
When asked about the importance of authenticity, Alexander laughs
with a witty response: “I want truly authentic, not staged happiness and
positivity.” She hopes that through her photography she can stress the
fundamental emphasis that should be placed on mental wellness, not just physical. She believes the FUA initiative will translate this ability well to students.

Katherine Casswell from Frankland, Massachusetts, is also at the event showcasing her artwork of a girl exercising jubially. She studies photography at home, so it was a natural choice for her to study in Florence, she explains. Her photograph mirrors her concept of “movement” which she says ties back to the overarching concept of health and wellness.

When asked what her biggest challenge was during the project, Caswell responds with a laugh: “Well, with this rainy weather we have been seeing in Florence, finding a sunny day to match the positive theme of the event was by far the biggest trial for me!”

Caswell stresses the importance of being active, claiming it to be a fun way to destress and self-empower! In her image of the girl jumping, she tries to capture the idea that athletes seem to capture the very essence of what it means to be “full of life.” As an FUA student, Caswell believes that the health and wellness initiative will allow students a well-rounded balance to their potentially busy schedules.

Beyond what was conveyed through their beautiful photographs,
speaking with the talented students gave real insight about the importance of health and wellness, both in general and on the FUA campus in particular. FUA is a university that draws countless international students per semester. Often times, it becomes easy to forget about mental and physical wellness as students become wrapped up in the abroad experience. Expressed by the beautifully composed photographs, an individual’s mental and physical wellness is crucial and should never be neglected! The introduction of classes and amenities that promote health and wellness is an exciting addition to the university.