Artists and scientists have more in common than you think

Italy was the Cammy Brothers’ first love.

When she was 13, she went on a “typical first trip to Europe” with her parents, visiting tourist hotspots such as Paris, London and Venice. Paris and London came and went, but the latter left an impression on Brothers. The friendly people, the sun-drenched rooftops and the streets covered in layer upon layer of history all made the young girl from Iowa City want to learn more.

And that’s what she did.

Brothers, now an associate professor of art, design and architecture at Northeastern, specializes in Italian Renaissance and Mediterranean art and architecture. Like a story drawn from some ancient Roman myth, the seed planted on the Brothers’ first trip to Italy has blossomed into a fruitful tree of lifelong knowledge and passion.

“Every time I go back to a church I’ve seen before but haven’t been to in years, I see new things,” Brothers says. “Really coming into contact with buildings and objects and seeing new places always raises new questions for me.”

After returning from Europe with her parents, Brothers became obsessed with Italian culture, history and language. She began studying Italian in her senior year of high school and continued to study Italian history and literature in the early days of her undergraduate program at Harvard University.

Brothers says the tipping point that led her to the Italian Renaissance was a summer trip to Florence as part of a program run by the University of Pennsylvania. Years after first wandering the streets of Venice with his parents, Brothers now visited villas, palaces, churches and museums. She returned to Harvard with an almost religious zeal for Italian art and architecture, especially of the Italian Renaissance.

“There was a way in which the art of this period represented a convergence of many different cultural factors, and because I was interested in all of these things, it seemed like a way to continue to pursue my interests in poetry or literature while also studying these beautiful subjects,” says Brothers.

The Italian Renaissance spanned the 15th and 16th centuries – although some scholars claim it lasted even longer – and represented a cultural rebirth after the Middle Ages. Italian artists, architects, writers and thinkers explore new ideas and techniques. Italy’s greatest creative minds brought a humanistic approach to their work, finding inspiration not only in biblical stories and Roman myths, but also in the human body itself.

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