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Mari Yoko Hara Discovers Rome Through the Renaissance Painter-Architect Baldassarre Peruzzi

February 18, 2014
Mari Yoko Hara
Baldassarre Peruzzi, Sala delle Prospettive (Hall of Perspective), 1516-19. Villa Farnesina, Rome
Anonymous Sixteenth-Century Draftsman, The Villa Farnesina (c) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fellows' walk, Villa Madama, 2013
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Mari Yoko Hara is the winner of the Samuel H. Kress Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and a Ph.D candidate in the McIntire Department of Art at the University of Virginia.

What part of the United States did you come from?

I was born and raised in southern Japan, but currently divide my time between Providence, Rhode Island and Charlottesville, Virginia.

Describe a particularly inspiring moment or location you've experienced in Rome thus far.

To what extent, if any, has your proposed project changed since your arrival?

Fundamentally, it has not. My dissertation is still a thematic monograph on the Renaissance painter-architect, Baldassarre Peruzzi. But my time at the Academy has clarified the goals for the project, and immeasurably enriched its scope. The nebulousness that surrounded it when first I arrived has gone, and I am thankful for that.

Have you had any "eureka!" moments or unanticipated breakthroughs in the course of your work here?                                       

Not one big one to which I can point to, but I've had a whole series of small moments like that. It happens often while I'm out walking around in the city. Rome suddenly surprises you and reveals an unexpected dimension. For example, I've probably visited the Pantheon almost once a week every week since I've arrived. One day, by chance I caught a glimpse of its profile for the first time from the intersection of via della Dogana Vecchia and the Salita de Crescenzi, and realized that the view of the Pantheon's portico from that particular angle appears in one of Peruzzi's drawings. Physically being in Rome has allowed me to empathize with the person I am studying in a totally new way, even at five centuries' remove.

What's surprised you most about living in Rome?   

I am in awe of how the city balances its two aspirations: Forward thinking on the one hand, and the concept of the eternal city on the other. The tension between those two ideas has always characterized Rome, but to me, that paradox is what makes this an incredibly vibrant and fascinating place.

How do you anticipate your Rome Prize Fellowship will influence future work?

This is difficult to anticipate, but I have a feeling that this experience will be something I will be able to draw from for a long time. I am especially grateful for the connections I have been able to build with people both in my field and not, both from the Academy's community and from beyond its walls in Rome and in Italy. I hope to strengthen these connections in the years to come.