Study Abroad Offers Transformation

Sophomore Emily Prichard traveled to London and Paris during the summer of 2013 as part of a short-term study abroad trip, led by Dr. Jeffrey Collins and Professor Loehle. Students explored and studied these cities as the settings for artistic and architectural revolutions. Here are some of Emily’s experiences in her own words.

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Emily in the Sainte-Chapelle cathedral in Paris.

This trip to London and Paris compounded my passion for art; I can’t think of a career for myself that doesn’t involve art. This was partly inspired by the atmosphere of purity and wonder that art can offer; art, in all its forms seemed to transform its environment into a sacred, treasured space.

One of the best examples of this transformation was Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France. The entire second story of the cathedral was floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows. Even though I had prepared a report on this cathedral, I was still incredibly blown away by the atmosphere, how the colors and light transformed a relatively tiny cathedral. With sunlight shining through the window panes, it felt as though the cathedral was a divine, living painting that the group had the privilege of experiencing from the inside: in a way, it felt like our tour group was literally inside the scene of a painting, only to realize it for a living organism. To personally see the mastery of detail involved to create each tiny scene was the equivalent to standing next to an expansive ocean: it gave one the feeling of not only being extremely small in comparison, but being somehow connected just by recognizing the true beauty and purity of the object. Sainte-Chapelle held beauty, purity, and color that can only be truly understood if experienced; even all of the research prior to Paris had not quite prepared me (or the rest of the group) for the atmosphere of the cathedral.

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Dr. Collins (right) talks to students about Cezanne at the Courtauld Gallery in London.

One of my most favorite museums out of the entire trip was the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, France. Focusing entirely on ancient and oceanic artifacts, this museum invoked a sense of wonder and mystery in the same way that Sainte-Chapelle invoked beauty and purity. My favorite aspect of the museum is the fact that these artifacts are so appreciated, even though archeologists still don’t know the meaning or purpose behind several of the objects. Therefore, the objects give off an air of mystery, inviting the viewer to wonder, to imagine themselves several thousand years ago, crafting what they see in the present. I was personally struck by the eerie feeling of a few; it felt as though these pieces were intended for rituals, or for people (or spirits) of great power, that we were somehow intruding. This museum felt like a giant time capsule, the modern design failing to exhaust a feeling of stepping back into a lost era. While Sainte-Chapelle helped me to rediscover the purity of art, Quai Branly helped to create the idea of art sometimes becoming a separate entity all its own, significance defined by the synesthesia of the viewer.

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A scene from the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.

Another important impact of this trip was realizing the general appreciation that Europe and the United Kingdom seem to have for art. The crowds in each museum and cathedral were VERY different than American museums/historic places. The average American seems to care less about the meaning or purpose of the piece; unless somewhat studied in art, they see museums as places for their amusement on rainy days. In Paris and London, the people treated museums as places of learning and interest, and were generally somewhat knowledgeable about what they were looking at. For example, nearly every museum had a group of schoolchildren touring; they were not rowdy, but actually listened to and absorbed the lectures. I loved this culture shock because it showcased the idea of using free museums as a means of education, for schoolchildren and adults alike. The museums were treated with respect, and the viewers seemed to have actually learned something by the time they left. This cultural difference gave me hope, that fine art can be appreciated and valued even in an age of technology and digital media.

Not coincidentally, Emily just recently changed her major to Studio Art, with a minor in Art History.

Part III: Study Abroad Creates ‘Momentum’

This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Greece made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Read Part II: An Odyssey of Learning, Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey.]

After seven hotels, five ferry ridKatherine Law 2es, four chartered buses, a few terrifying cab rides, a couple donkey rides up some cliffs, and a cable car to the highest point in Athens—I was back home in Atlanta.

After this trip to Greece, my biggest fear was losing momentum. It blows my mind how much we moved, literally from the mainland to the islands and back again. I knew I would be okay with coming back home because I know it’s a totally different feeling after these trips. You come back motivated and inspired, determined to not slow down. The longing I felt was for full days, long tiring days of seeing and doing everything I possible can. Time spent exploring the landscape, the people, and myself.

Greece was not an escape, a break from reality, or a vacation. I can say now, it’s an experience I can always look back on and carry with me. I made it to Greece this summer with Dr. Collins and Professor Loehle because of the incredible journey we took to Italy last summer. I feel alive and determined when I get back from these trips—an absolutely priceless souvenir, if you ask me.Katherine Law 3

Greece is the center, the cradle of western civilization, and my two feet got to walk all over it. The sea, the land, the people, the food, the ruins, the aromas, the aesthetics…we soaked it all up. I was discovering new parts of myself in this Grecian context, and based on my experience last summer after Italy, I could trust myself to bring these new self realizations back home with me.

I am so in love with my time spent in Italy and now Greece. As a May ’13 grad, I head into an unknown future with my time in Greece fresh on my sleeve. Being part of such a positive collection of professors, students and mentors was comforting, inspiring and irreplaceable. We were being led but also pushed—pushed to take steps out of our comfort zones and embrace the unfamiliar. Professor Loehle and Dr. Collins pushed us, led us, and questioned us for ouKatherine Law 1r own opinions. We need more people like them in the world. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel the world with those two and build foundations for our life-long friendships.

And with my undergrad education now at an end, I can confidently say my OU short term study abroad trips are now the backbone of my liberal arts education from Oglethorpe University. Everything I learned in the classroom and abroad have come full circle. And I feel I have truly earned the right to march into my future confident and humbled, determined and centered. I have so much to give and now, after Greece, even more to share.

A studio art major, Katherine Law graduated in May 2013.

Part II: An Odyssey of Learning

This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Greece made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Read Part III: Study Abroad Creates 'Momentum', Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey]

The author (center) with OU's Alan Loehle, associate professor of art, and Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history and director of Oglethorpe University Students Abroad (OUSA).

Holly Bostick ’15 (center) with Alan Loehle, associate professor of art, and Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history and director of Oglethorpe University Students Abroad (OUSA).

Reading the Odyssey, I never thought I would experience an adventure even remotely similar to the wondrous events of the heroic epic. However, this summer in Greece, I was proven wrong. The short term study abroad trip turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime with rewarding knowledge and marvel around every corner.

From our first dinner in a little tavern in Athens with traditional cuisine and Greek dancing, I knew the mood was set for the entirety of the trip. Every location and site were reflected in the joy and amazement of our entire group, particularly emanated by Dr. Collins, Professor Loehle and our outstanding friend and tour guide Mara Kanari. Beginning in Athens, and then traveling between the islands of Mykonos, Delos, Santorini, and Crete, before returning to the mainland for a few final days spread between Corinth, Nafplio, Delphi, and again Athens, I was overwhelmed with the beauty, history and hospitality that Greece had to offer.

Delphi

Delphi

Though I was thrilled of course to be in a foreign country studying art and art history, the magnitude of what we were doing didn’t truly hit me until we were standing at the foot of the Parthenon looking up at the precise and everlasting architecture of the structure. You walk in through the Propylaea, the entrance to the Acropolis, and then there it is, right before your eyes: the Parthenon. It is humbling to imagine a civilization so advanced to have created such a colossal wonder. I found this to be true at every site we visited, be it the expansive ruins at Delos and Mycenae, the civilization at Akrotiri, or the great Palace of Knossos in Crete, one of my favorite sites having previously been introduced to the history of the Minoan people. It was life changing and indescribably influential being able to experience such a monumental piece of history on location. There is something profound about experiencing a site like this in person, because it suddenly becomes more attainable and real. The knowledge and information becomes your own.

The Palace of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos

The trip of course was filled with awe inspiring wonders like these, where pictures in textbooks came to life before my eyes. This was the case with many famous pieces, like the Bronze Zeus, the Kritios Boy, the Cycladic figurines, and the boundless gold of the Mycenaean culture. And as if experiencing ancient Greece in its truest form wasn’t enough, the professors surprised us with a spur of the moment trip to Isthmia, an active dig site in Corinth, where we were given a behind-the-scenes tour of archaeology being conducted in real time. Dr. Tim Gregory of Ohio State University even allowed us to walk on and analyze a beautifully restored and well preserved mosaic floor of a Roman bath house. The site was made only more astonishing when water was poured on the monochrome tiles of the mosaic and each and every distinct color was made visible. It was truly a memorable and altogether inspiring experience, being some of the only people besides archaeologists to have stepped on that floor.

Donkeys on Santorini!

Donkeys on Santorini!

Between hiking volcanoes, riding donkeys up steep cliff sides, swimming in the Aegean Sea with the Temple of Poseidon in sight, and watching one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets from the heights of Santorini, this trip was truly an excellent blend of “harmony and contradiction.” This phrase as coined by the ancient Greeks, fully expresses the circumstance of our time in Greece, where one minute we could be beachside on a sunny island, and the next deep in the mystical mountains of Delphi.

Yet somehow, thanks to the ingenious and boundless insights of our professors and tour guide, each and every destination and experience cohesively worked together to create a seamless string of knowledge and awareness. This trip to Greece, with its rewarding, exhilarating, and life changing experiences, can only be described as an odyssey, and one that given the opportunity, I would gladly take again!

Holly Bostick ’15 is an art history major, minoring in Spanish.

Part I: “They are Spartans”

Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history, is the director of OU Study Abroad. He and Professor Alan Loehle led the short term study abroad to Greece during June 2013. This is the first in a four-part series about the trip.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We have returned from an extraordinary odyssey across hundreds of miles of Aegean sea, islands, Santorini volcanoes, mountains, and endless olive and oleander. Our OU students stood before the sunlit ruins of the Parthenon, walked where Socrates and Plato taught, examined the sculptures in the new Acropolis Museum, and spent hours discussing, reporting, and engaging in lively talks about ancient architecture, politics, and myth.

At Delos, they stood in burdock growing where lush buildings and mosaics once gleamed in the Attic air; in Crete, they worked through the maze of Knossos, speaking of Theseus and the minotaur; in Chania, they marveled at a reconstructed Minoan boat that carried painted pottery and jewelry once to Egyptian ports 1200 years before the Parthenon was even built.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Santorini, they were dumbfounded at the stark and sublime power of the cliffs and the myth of Atlantis. Several read Plato’s Timaeus. There, they hiked the volcano, rode donkeys on Thirissa, and spent evenings in tavernas dancing the crane dances. Days of feta, bread, olives, baked cheeses, rich Assyritiko wine, sun, deep wind, pure light.

They gave reports and asked brilliant questions, sketched ruins at Delphi, and sang in the perfectly acoustical, ancient theatre at Epidauros. At Mycenae, they stood in the tholos tomb, and spoke of Agamemnon and the gold death mask. Some read the Odyssey; others, the Iliad. As we passed Thermoplyae, they laughed about the movie 300, and bought T-shirts, with the heroic and defiant words the Spartans retorted to the Persians when they told the Greeks to lay down their arms: “come and get them!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHistory was not for them mere words in a thick tome—it was alive, it was before them, it was under their sandalled feet, it was in their blood.

They felt it and knew it.

On boats, buses, on foot for many hours, our students voyages across vast expanses of water, through mountains and apricot groves, down twisting white alleys of Mykonos, upon slick marble floors in hotels and lobbies; our students journeyed with notebooks full of ideas and history and dates and poems and drawings, with digital cameras filled with thousands of photos of old widows in black dresses against blue doors, or of tanned fishers in the shoals, or of nameless dogs asleep near Byzantine churches, or of themselves, laughing and singing, and dancing—as they all did—like Zorbas in tavernas smelling of jasmine and kalimara. Oopah!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho said learning should be all so serious? A Greek philosopher once said, we learn best when we laugh. Our students laughed at misspelled signs, worry beads, the wild chaos and charm that is Greece, the odd times of shop closings, but mostly at themselves, falling over stones, suitcases, and falling in love with every beautiful man—or woman—they saw. Apollos and Aphrodites on vespas—they are everywhere in Greece. Oopah!

We have not heard such excellent reports given with such passion and insight. Our students will never forget the flame of skies, the early morning belled sheep, the climb up Palamidi. They will not lose sight of what they accomplished and what they witnessed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn one of our final days, after long hours of talking and analyzing myths of Zeus and Demeter, history, ancient ruins, and wars, we took a silent sacred run, our ritual at Delphi, and saw, laid out before us, the outline of Gaia, the Mother Earth goddess, honored before Apollo and Dionysos were worshiped at the Delphi.

We watched in striking silence the sun curve across her flanks. We drank from the sacred Castelian springs, the source of poetic inspiration, as did everyone from Plato to Yeats.

No one can take the memories from them now as their coming blogs will show. They will live in our students’ hearts and minds as long as they live. No one could ever take from them now their newly discovered ideas and images—try, and they will no doubt respond: “come and get them.”

They are Spartans.

Part II: An Odyssey of Learning

Part III: Study Abroad Creates ‘Momentum

Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey

 

My Internship: Curating an Exhibit at the OU Museum of Art

Chris (center) pictured with other Oglethorpe arts students during a short-term trip to New York City, led by Professor Alan Loehle (in background).

I’m a senior at Oglethorpe, with a double major in history and art history. During the spring 2013 semester, I interned at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA) and had the opportunity to curate an exhibit that had a very special purpose.

You might not know that Oglethorpe’s art museum has a large permanent collection of precious and rare works of art that has been acquired over the years (and continues to grow). Not many universities can claim to have original works by artists such as Henri Matisse, Joan Miro or Salvador Dali. OUMA has also exhibited original artwork in exclusive exhibitions that are not shown anywhere else. Elizabeth Peterson, who became the museum’s director last summer, believes that the museum is a valuable and essential institution from which students of Oglethorpe should be able to benefit and learn. I’m one example of that.

Chris pictured with library staff member Toni Zimmerman during an exhibit opening reception for the OU community.

The exhibit that I had the chance to curate was dedicated to pieces of art from OUMA’s permanent collection that tied in neatly with two art classes offered this semester, printmaking and figure drawing. I included OUMA’s early sketches of figures from the estate of Delacroix that showed an artist’s analysis of human facial expressions. A beautiful chalk drawing of a nude by Renoir showed the rich color and detail a drawing can demonstrate. Sketches and prints of Parisian streets by Pierre Bonnard displayed how artists can find inspiration around them.

At Oglethorpe, you can study and have firsthand access to genuine artwork that could potentially serve as sources of inspiration for your own art or as a topic for a research paper. The museum also is the setting for concerts and educational lectures—and potential internships. The advantages that Oglethorpe’s museum provides both students and faculty are endless. I know I received an opportunity that I can’t imagine having anywhere else.

Read more about the Oglethorpe Art Department’s short-term trip to New York City to study art in February 2013 (pictured at top).