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Christopher Robinson

Program Director

Director Chris Robinson

Christopher Robinson is originally from Atlanta, Georgia.  After attending the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, he graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC with a BA in Ceramics and a minor in Medieval Studies.

From 1994-98 he attended the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina as a core fellow.  During these years he continued his study of ceramics, making his first research on the practice of wood-fired pottery, as well as exploring other materials and techniques such as blacksmithing, glassblowing, and woodworking.  

Robinson first came to Cortona as a graduate student in 2000, while working towards his MFA in Ceramics at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia in Athens.  After graduating, he returned to Cortona in the summer of 2001 as an assistant to then-director R. G. Brown.  From 2002-10 he lived and worked in Cortona year-round, serving as Associate Director and Instructor of Ceramics.  In 2011, he was named the Director of UGA Cortona.

Robinson’s long experience with the UGA Cortona program strongly informs his vision for its future. He believes that better curriculum integration will pave the way for more students from the Lamar Dodd School of Art and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences to study in Cortona, including graduate students.  He is also working to expand the program’s curriculum and broaden its reach to the rest of the University.  “With the challenging global climate of today, I think it’s vital for every student to participate in cultural exchange through a studies abroad experience – and particularly for art students to experience a country like Italy where art surrounds its residents, and is an everyday reality.”

Robinson is also working to find new ways to cement the connection between the UGA Cortona Studies Abroad program and its host city of Cortona, a partnership which will celebrate its 50-year anniversary in 2019. “Through our exhibitions, collaborative projects, language exchanges, and other interactions, we will continually refresh and renew this relationship between the program and its very gracious hosts, the people of Cortona.”

Kristine Schramer

Associate Director

Associate Director Kris Schramer

After graduating from the College of William & Mary in 1994 with a BA in Fine Art, Kristine Schramer studied at the New York Academy of Art and the Art Students League of New York before earning her MFA in Painting from Indiana University Bloomington in 1998. Prior to joining the UGA Cortona team in 2013, she was an Associate Professor of Fine Art and Foundation Studies at the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio, where she gained twelve years’ experience in teaching and worked with honors, independent study, and graduate students.

The daughter of a U.S Naval officer, Kristine lived in Italy several times during her childhood. Her first experience with study abroad came as a Monroe Scholar at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, when she attended the Ecole Albert Defois in France during the summer after her junior year. As a graduate student, she participated in Indiana University’s study abroad program in Florence, Italy during the summer of 1996, and the following year returned to the same program as an Associate Instructor of Drawing. In 2000 she received a painting award from the National Society of Arts and Letters that enabled her to travel and work in Poland. In 2003 and 2005 she received grants to study and paint in Italy; also in 2005, she was a finalist for a Fulbright junior research fellowship in Italy. In 2006 she led a group of Columbus College of Art & Design students in a pilot study abroad program on the Italian island of Sardinia.

In August 2013, Kristine became the Associate Director of UGA Cortona.  She now lives in Cortona year-round, where she helps manage program logistics, student activities, health, and safety, campus facilities and grounds, community relations, and occasionally teaches Painting and Drawing classes.  She is still a practicing artist whose work can be found at www.kschramer.com.

Enza Valente

Business Manager and Community Liaison

Enza Valente

Enza Valente was born in Venezuela to Italian parents from the Abruzzo region of Italy. She is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish and earned her degree as Interpreter and Translator in English and French in 1987 at the Scuola Superiore per Interpreti e Traduttori of Rome. She has managed the UGA Cortona Studies Abroad office in Cortona, Italy since 1999, serving as our invaluable liaison with Cortona city officials, businesses, service providers, and contractors.

Dr. Jennifer Griffiths

Art Historian and Academic Coordinator

Jenn Griffiths

Jennifer Griffiths did her undergraduate degree at The American University, winning the Robert and Susan Pence Prize for Art History. Funded by multiple Marguerite Farley Fellowships, she completed a PhD at Bryn Mawr College in 2012 across the disciplines of the History of Art and Italian Studies.

She has been an intern for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Bonham’s and Sotheby’s Auctioneer houses, and The Art Newspaper in London. In 2012 she was awarded the Association for the Study of Modern Italy Postgraduate Essay Prize. In 2014 she was a finalist for the Hilla Rebay Curatorial Fellowship and an alternate for a Fulbright to the United Kingdom. She has been awarded minor grants from the Italian Art Society and the Order Sons of Italy.

She has delivered over a dozen conference papers (including those at the College Art Association, the Association for the Study of Modern Italy, the American Association for Italian Studies, and the Feminist Art History Conference). Her peer-reviewed articles, book reviews, and exhibition reviews have appeared in Woman’s Art Journal, Woman’s Studies Quarterly, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, Annali d’Italianistica, International Yearbook of Futurism Studies, Modern Italy, Art Journal, Forum Italicum, and Italian Studies. Her first monograph on the Futurist painter Marisa Mori is under review with Bloomsbury Academic Press.

Before coming to the University of Georgia’s Cortona program in 2017, Jennifer worked as a staff writer for the American Academy in Rome between 2013-15, and an adjunct lecturer for The American University of Rome and Iowa State University College of Design.

Bryan Parnham

Visiting Artist and Facilities Manager

Bryan Parnham

Bryan Parnham is an artist and a jeweler. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received his degree in Craft and Material studies. Since graduating, he completed the two-year CORE Fellowship program at The Penland School of Crafts and has participated in numerous residencies including Mississippi State University’s Emerging Craftsman Residency and The Bright Angle’s Designer in Residence. Recently his work has been shown during contemporary metalsmithing conferences in New York City and Munich, Germany.

Bryan first came to Cortona as a scholarship student in 2012. He will be returning for a one-year position as Facilities Manager and Visiting Artist in 2019.

Zoey Wilson

Center Assistant

Zoey Wilson

Zoey Wilson was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.  She received her BA from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio where she double majored in psychology and photography, and double minored in art history and women’s studies. While at university, Zoey was Photo Editor for the Wittenberg Torch newspaper, worked as a writing advisor at The Wittenberg Writing Center, and attended UGA Cortona as a student in the Spring of 2016.  

In 2018, Zoey returned to Cortona in the position of Visiting Artist / Facilities Manager, and in 2019 she became the Center Assistant.   

Zoey has presented research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, and the International Writing Centers Association Conference, and has had her creative writing published in The Wittenberg Review of Literature and Art.  Her photography has been on display with the UGA Studies Abroad Program in both Cortona, Italy and Athens, Georgia, as well as in the Ann Miller and Thompson galleries in Springfield, Ohio.