Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Art History Student and Global Explorer Scholarship Recipient Roberta Imperiale
Born and raised in Cerignola, in the Puglia region of Italy, Roberta Imperiale is an Art History major and one of the recipients of the Global Explorer Scholarship. Her involvement in international exchange programs, coupled with her love of art history, led her to choose Rome as her campus.
Tell us about yourself and what led you to John Cabot.
Even though I’m from a small town, I had the chance to meet several international students through my involvement with the non-profit organization, Intercultura (or AFS), which offers exchange programs for students and families all around the world. Luckily, my family and I had the pleasure of welcoming many exchange students into our home and our lives. As these students became family, I realized how impactful such bonds and experiences can be, leading me to later become a volunteer and exchange student myself. The most meaningful experiences I had took place in Canada and the United States. In both cases, I became friends with wonderful people from different corners of the globe who taught me valuable lessons every day. We created lasting friendships, each of us connected by a strong desire to learn, all of which was made possible by the common language we shared: the English language. These experiences left me with a desire to study in a multicultural, diverse environment. Since John Cabot University offers an international atmosphere in an Italian setting, it seemed like the perfect fit.
What made you decide to major in Art History?
When I was a child, there were periods when I was hospitalized and often unable to attend school or leave the house much. During this time, an uncle of mine used to bring me souvenirs from the places he visited, including a series of postcards portraying monuments or museum spaces. I became increasingly curious about the world, fascinated by how much there was to see outside of my room. Postcard pictures of sculptures, paintings, installations, and monuments told me stories about foreign cultures that, otherwise, I could never have discovered. This was the beginning of a love for art that only grew throughout the years. When I had the chance to return to school, I came across the wonderful and inspiring discipline of art history. Just by opening an art book, the powerful image of the Nike of Samothrace (or Winged Victory) grabbed my attention and filled me with pure energy. From that moment on, that image became a source of strength in tough times. One day in particular, during a school trip with exchange students, I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the United States and got emotional in front of a Modigliani painting on exhibit there. It was then that I realized that studying art history would shape my career and life path forever.
What’s it like to study at JCU and in Rome?
Since my first day at JCU, I instantly felt like part of a big and caring family. In fact, one of my favorite things at JCU is the possibility to join clubs and engage in student life. In my case, I have been in the Art History Society for almost three years, and it has given me amazing friendships and beautiful memories. One of them was getting the chance to try out my dream job of being a curator. Such an opportunity was made possible by the club’s incredible board members, the Art History Department, and Student Services staff with whom I could organize an exhibition from the ground up. On top of that, each semester’s vernissage event brought me into contact with an international art scene and with certain aspects of curating. The fact that John Cabot is an American university located in the heart of the Eternal City makes everything much more magical. Walking through ancient ruins and historical sites on my way to class is such a unique experience that I couldn’t have anywhere else.
You were awarded the Global Explorer Scholarship. What advice would you give to future students who are looking for similar opportunities?
Receiving the Global Explorer Scholarship completely changed my life and the perception I had of myself. When I first applied to JCU, I dreamed of receiving this scholarship but never thought I could be eligible for such an award. In fact, I almost gave up on completing my application multiple times because I was afraid of being a financial burden to my parents. If it were not for my family, which pushed me to believe in myself and give it a chance, I would have not been here at all. The advice I would give to future students is to always remember that everything you wish for is worth a try. Do not live by the expectations of others and do not fear making mistakes. Failures, as much as achievements, will meaningfully affect your life. Try your best in everything you do because even a small action can result in an extraordinary outcome. It is all about a positive mindset; getting the best out of mistakes is better than avoiding mistakes altogether.
What are your plans for the future?
For the past year and a half, I have been working remotely as part of an art tech start-up, Articheck, which provides software for digital condition reports and couriers. In a few words, condition reports are like “passports” for artworks and objects. Therefore, such documents are used when artworks need to be traveling such as when they are lent to a borrowing institution. The information included in condition reports is mainly provided by restorers and conservators who examine the works to attest to their condition and report any damages. During my time as Assistant Project Manager here, I have gotten in touch with museums, galleries, and art shippers. For the moment, I am planning on acquiring as much experience as possible with my job, and then possibly apply for an MA in Curatorial Studies or Art Logistics.