- Ed Ford has been drawing since he was in first grade, but it wasn't
until college that he developed a passion and curiosity for the
methods other artists - the great Renaissance artists - used in
creating their masterpieces.
Ford got his
start in 1980, when he enrolled at The University of Southern Mississippi
as a freshman. The Mize native said he had an overwhelming feeling
he was academically behind the other students. "'I've got to
catch up,' I thought," Ford said. "So I took Latin, Greek,
history and anatomy to get myself caught up."
It was while
studying in the university's art department that Ford found a passion
for the old masters of the Renaissance period. He participated in
Southern Miss' study-abroad program in Rome, Italy, but credits
his foundation in art to professor Jim Meade. "He used the
old masters as examples," Ford said. "He taught that we
should learn them to know how to look at art - to study them."
the Renaissance masters, Ford became curious about the methods the
artists used to create their compositions. "It wasn't anything
anyone had the answer to," he said. "The curiosity of
the actual business of making the compositions lead me to my master's
and to my dissertation."
a bachelor's degree from Southern Miss, Ford went on to the University
of Georgia in Athens. He intended to earn both a master's degree
and Ph.D. there. In 1988, he received a master's degree and immediately
began work on a Ph.D. However, when it was time to start his dissertation,
there was no one at the university to direct it.
A few years
later, Ford applied to St. Andrews University in Scotland to study
with Dr. Martin Kemp, one of the leading art historians and authorities
on Renaissance design. When Kemp transferred to Oxford University,
Ford followed him.
he earned a doctor of philosophy, Trinity Turn from Trinity College
at Oxford University. For his dissertation, "Interpretations
of Marks from Draughting Tools in Some Italian Renaissance Drawings:
Evidence for the Use of Geometrical and Numerical Design Systems,"
Ford examined evidence left by marks of the tools artists used.
Through an investigative methodology that he developed, Ford concluded
that evidence of the marks leads to information on the artists'
the archaeological evidence that remains, it was possible for Ford
to study the artists' "design systems" scientifically.
"What I came upon was a method of investigation," he said.
"Some artists used tools that are a part of the geometric system-such
as a compass or a straightedge. When you employ the geometry process,
you can figure out their composition. The investigatory method was
to look at these marks in the paper and unravel the artist's composition."
For his dissertation,
Ford analyzed the drawings of Antonio Sangallo, Palladio, Uccello,
Michelangelo and Peruzzi, but his primary focus was analyzing the
works of da Vinci. Ford credits Meade for his decision to investigate
the Renaissance artists. "His favorites were Italian Renaissance,
and that's the best place to look for evidence," he explained.
"It still exists."
Ford is making a name for himself in the art community. In February
2003, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City hosted one
of the largest exhibitions of Leonardo da Vinci drawings, and Ford
was invited to write a chapter in the catalog. Future career plans
are just as promising. He wants to publish his dissertation in art
history journals and continue teaching and publishing his work.
For now, though,
Ford has been staying busy as a stay-at-home dad with his two young
children. Ford and his wife recently moved the family from Atlanta
to Salt Lake City, Utah. "It's great to have the opportunity
to teach them," Ford said of being home with his children.
children will develop artistic tendencies is anyone's guess. "My
wife is verbal; I am visual," he said. "Neither of us