Spotlight: Solo Exhibition Opportunity with Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy

Spotlight: Solo Exhibition Opportunity with Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy


Studio Art Centers International (SACI), an accredited American art school located in Florence, Italy, has opened the SACI International Art Exhibition Award 2015. Artists of any age, both students and professionals, from all over the world are invited to submit their works in any medium and any theme. The first prize award, selected by jury, is an opportunity for a solo exhibition in the SACI Gallery at SACI’s historic Palazzo dei Cartelloni in July 2015. A second prize winner will be selected according to popular vote via social media and will be featured on the SACI Art Blog.

Naomi Muirhead, SACI Gallery Coordinator and Communications Designer, talks to NYFA about the school’s mission, gives details about the application process, and offers some helpful tips to artists who want to apply.

NYFA: Studio Art Centers International is located in the center of Florence, a city with direct access to centuries of Italian culture. How has this location influenced your origins and mission?

NM: SACI is the oldest and most prestigious American art school in Florence, Italy. The institution was founded in 1975 by painter Jules Maidoff, whose goal was to offer the finest and most challenging training to the next generation of artists, art historians, and art conservators, as well as the opportunity to live out a full, first-hand immersion within Florentine culture and customs.

SACI’s mission is to provide undergraduate and graduate students with a challenging, life-enhancing experience in the center of Florence in traditional and contemporary studio arts, design, conservation, and art history. Students directly access centuries of Italian culture through a wide range of courses of academic excellence. SACI engages in leading areas of research and exploration, interacts with the community through artistic and social programs, and prepares students to excel in their chosen field.

NYFA: You’ve launched the SACI International Art Exhibition Award 2015, which is open to all artists, of any age, worldwide. What is the age of the youngest artist you’ve received an application from? The oldest? What country do you receive the most entries from? Finally, are there any populations you’d like more interest from?

NM: The SACI International Art Exhibition Award 2015 gives a free opportunity to artists of all levels from all over the globe to have their work seen and shared through our social network. Submitting one’s age and country of origin is not a requirement, but we have received entries from high school age art students to established artists. The country from where we have received the most entries is from Italy, although we have received many from the US, Russia, Ukraine, and all over Europe. We are pleased with the truly international response to our call.


NYFA: First prize is a solo exhibition at the SACI Gallery in Florence. What relationship does the gallery have with SACI’s academic community?

NM: The SACI Gallery and the Maidoff Gallery provide professional, non-commercial exhibition spaces for local, national, and internationally renowned artists as well as some upcoming young artists. Contemporary art exhibitions of works in all media are featured. SACI aims to utilize its educational environment by supplementing the exhibitions with visiting artist presentations and artist lectures. Our goal is to act as a catalyst between the cross-cultural American university environment and the local Italian community by collaborating with other cultural institutions and participating in outside creative projects. Artists who have already shown in the SACI Galleries have benefitted from the visibility of exhibiting their work in an international academic environment.

NYFA: The winner of the second prize for the competition is determined by popular vote on social media, rather than by the judges. How do the artists benefit from structuring the competition this way?

NM: The popular vote structure for the second prize is simply an incentive for each artist to share images of their work with as many of their contacts as possible to gain virtual visibility and to introduce their art to a network of people with an exponentially viral outreach. SACI has chosen four from the 10 images submitted by each artist and has “curated” a composite image in which to present the best work from each artist.

NYFA: Who will be included in the selection panel?

NM: Works will be juried by members of the SACI Artists Council including the Founder and Director Emeritus of SACI, Jules Maidoff, and other internationally renowned artists, filmmakers, architects, and other professionals in the art world who support SACI and our mission.

NYFA: What makes an application stand out to the judging panel?

NM: The judging panel is looking for examples of artwork that really show evidence of an elaborate research and exploration of a creative concept expressed in a cohesive body of work, coupled with proven technical abilities in the chosen medium, while demonstrating a promising career as a professional artist.

NYFA: What mistakes do artists typically make when they submit their applications? Are there any tips you can give them to help improve their applications?

NM: The biggest mistake an artist can do is to submit photographs of their work that are of inferior quality and do not represent the work well. Images need to be in focus, cropped appropriately, properly lit, and devoid of any unimportant information such as backgrounds.

Artists must also resize their images in the requested format. Several applicants have submitted enormous files that have complicated the application process.

An application sent by email should also always include even a brief introduction note including the artist’s name.


NYFA: You’ve asked artists to submit 10 images of a cohesive body of work. What should applicants consider when choosing samples of their work to submit?

NM: Artists should consider their applications to be a proposal to exhibit their work in a solo exhibition. This means that the work should be substantial and relative to a main theme, thread, or concept. The 10 images of work should be carefully selected to represent the artist’s collective output, or oeuvre, and genre, rather than showing several different examples of unrelated experiments in various styles and medium.

NYFA: What factors should prospective applicants be aware of before applying? (i.e. are there any expenses associated with winning the competition that they should be prepared for?)

NM: There is no application fee for submitting artwork. The first prize winner must be able to exhibit his/her work July 2-30, 2015 and follow SACI Gallery exhibition guidelines and procedures. SACI offers an exhibition space, installation, inaugural reception open to the public, digital publicity, and press coverage. The first prize winner is not required to be present for the exhibition, however two-way shipping/delivery of artwork, including international customs fees, framing, printing, and insurance, are the full responsibility of the artist. SACI also does not provide travel or accommodation expenses.  

 NYFA: If artists have questions about the application process, how can they contact you?

NM: The best way to contact SACI regarding the application process is to send an email to [email protected] with ‘SACI AWARD’ in the subject line. And inquiries regarding application to one of SACI’s many Graduate, Undergraduate, Summer, and Non-Credit programs of study can be emailed to [email protected].

The application deadline for the SACI International Art Exhibition Award 2015 is December 15, 2104. All information for entering the competition is outlined on the SACI website.

To find other exhibition opportunities, visit NYFA Classifieds’ Opportunities and Services for Artists and NYFA Source.  

— Interview Conducted by Michon Ashmore

Images, from top: Florence, photograph by Carlo Fei; Palazzo dei Cartelloni, photograph courtesy of SACI; SACI Gallery, photograph by Naomi Muirhead.
Amy Aronoff
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