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 IV: An Oglethorpe Journey

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 III: Study Abroad Creates 'Momentum'.]

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (13)c

Chelsea Reed ’13

When I began my Oglethorpe journey, I never could have anticipated everything I would both gain from and give to this incredible community. As a freshman, I vividly remember studying The Return of Gilgamesh in Dr. Shrikhande’s Core class, Narratives of the Self. The epic tells a tale known as a bildungsroman, a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. Retrospectively, it seems that these past four years have been something of my own bildungsroman, and I couldn’t be more grateful for Oglethorpe’s key role in the person I have become. Following graduation this past May, I embarked on a study abroad trip in June, spending 20 days touring Greece with two of my favorite professors, fellow alumnae, and students earning academic credit in art history or studio art. The trip was a serendipitous way to end my time at OU, celebrate graduation, and solidify my entire college experience.

Although I’ve been back in Atlanta for a couple of weeks, I am still trying to fully process the amazing journey through Greece. We began in Athens, island hopped, ventured back to the mainland for a land tour, and then ended up back in Athens, full circle, before heading home. In Athens, we were blown away by the historical value of the Acropolis and the majestic Parthenon and entertained by the hustle and bustle of the busy Plaka where we ate and shopped. When we left on a ferry, I could feel the vastness of the Aegean Sea begin to settle my soul as we voyaged toward the islands.

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The group listens to Dr. Collins at the foot of the Parthenon.

Our first stop was the beautiful island of Mykonos. We felt like we were in paradise at our quaint resort. A maze of streets lined with crisp white buildings with blue accents, Mykonos was as lively as its famous Don Quixote-esque windmills. I would’ve gladly stayed, convinced that it couldn’t get any better aesthetically—until we arrived on the island of Santorini.

Santorini, the remnant city, is re-established in optimism after one of the largest volcanic eruptions of all time wiped out the entire Minoan civilization and devastated the island. The desire to remain here despite fear of another natural catastrophe was much easier to understand after seeing Santorini’s beauty and grandeur in person. We hiked Nea Kameni, the burnt island, feeling empowered as we stood on the basalt of a dormant volcano. The view from the winery, where we sampled local wines, was absolutely breathtaking, illustrated with shades of blue I thought could only exist in my imagination. One night as we walked back to the hotel from dinner, we paused to gaze upon the charming town on a cliff, lit up against the dark sapphire sea. In that moment, I understood why so many people from all over the world find Santorini so special and appealing—it is certainly the most gorgeous place I have ever seen.

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (1)cReluctantly leaving behind Santorini, we made it to the island of Crete, with its unique combination of metropolis, oceanic and mountainous scenery. We spent much of our time in the old port of Hania, characterized by a beautiful lighthouse and an animated town. There we saw the Phaistos Disc, one of archaeology’s great mysteries, engraved with some of the first known hieroglyphics.

We finally made it back to the mainland of Greece, where we recuperated in the serenely quiet coastal town of Nafplio. We had become fairly well acquainted with Greek cuisine by this point in the trip, and were thrilled to have a great feast followed by lessons in traditional Greek dancing. I will never forget Dr. Collins doing a flip or proposing a toast to Professor Loehle for his tireless efforts in challenging us artistically.

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (12)cAfter much anticipation, we got to the mystical town of Delphi, which felt like another plane of existence with its astonishing view of mountainous landscape for miles. A cozy town with a main road of shops and cafes, Delphi seems ordinary, but the spiritual feeling it evokes in its visitors is anything but. One morning, we arose early with the roosters and went for a run along on what was once known as the sacred road to the Castalian spring. Mystics before us had cleansed and hydrated themselves with its healing waters, and I gained from our ritual an awakening I will never forget.

Everyone in our group seemed to be on the trip with an objective. Whether we realized it beforehand or not, we were all searching for something… education, mental retreat, vacation, spiritual awakening, perspective (albeit personal or anthropological), or maybe a little bit of all these things. What we would all manage to find throughout our journey in this fascinating, ancient place—and also within ourselves—far exceeded our expectations.

Chelsea Reed graduated this past May with a major in Communications and Rhetoric Studies and a minor in Studio Art.

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.

Oglethorpe Students Explore Art in the Big Apple

Photo by Robert Findley

An Oglethorpe education seeks to bring together classroom learning with real world experiences. The Art Department provides such an opportunity with short-term study trips, during which students can experience in person the art that many have only seen in textbooks. Their most recent trip to New York City provided students the chance to see, sketch and photograph pieces by some of the world’s most famous artists.

In January 2013, Oglethorpe’s Art Department conducted its annual trip to New York. This 48-hour trip, led by Associate Professor of Art Alan Loehle, took students from the classroom environment and immersed them into the art world of New York.

Photo by Robert Findley

“This year’s trip was beyond successful,” says Loehle, a former NYC resident. “Despite the unpredictable weather, we covered a lot of ground in two days.” Starting at The Frick Collection, students observed 18th-century French decorative arts, Chinese Porcelain vases, Italian bronzes and masterpiece paintings executed by Titian, El Greco, Goya, Van Dyck, and of course, one of the most striking paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger, Sir Thomas More.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they viewed the ancient art of Greece, Sumeria, Egypt, and Roman antiquities while discovering the masks, textiles and weaponry of Africa and Oceania. “Matisse: In Search of True Painting,” a featured exhibit of modern art, was a special treat. Making their way through rainy weather to Little Italy, the group brought day one to a close with a fabulous Italian dinner and an open discussion about exhibit highlights.

Photo by Robert Findley

The last day for the group was even more invigorating than the first as they navigated NYC’s museum and modern architecture circuit like the Contubernium marching to Cannae. From Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim, to Bunshaft’s Lever House and to modern art and architecture at MOMA, this vibrant group of 14 absorbed the city’s art world in just two days.

The students who participated in this year’s trip created a diverse group. Not all students were art majors and for a few students, this was their first trip to New York. Student Holly Bostick reflected on her first New York experience while sitting in the LaGuardia Airport. “This was my first time in New York. Though the weather was not what I’m used to and the train system was more complex, as an art history major I know that this is where I need to be. In two intense days, I have seen almost half of what I have learned in the classroom.”

For more information regarding Oglethorpe’s Art Department trips, please contact Alan Loehle or Dr. Jeffrey Collins.

Photo by Robert Findley