Perspectives from Paris


By Tess Skoller

The bright lights and rich history of Paris, France provide an ideal background for students to indulge in educational exploration. With its iconic architecture, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Arc de Triomphe just to name a few, Paris lends itself to be the perfect setting for any art or art history student to delve into studying the architectural styles as well as the artistic history of these famous landmarks.

Union College studio art and art history students were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn more about these important Parisian monuments over the extended six-week winter break. Students from the two disciplines combined for a three-week trip to study both art and art history throughout the city. Led by Professor Ogawa from the art history department, and Professor Hatke, from the studio art department, students spent a majority of their time studying in the Louvre.

“I thought it was really interesting to go into the Louvre as much as we did,” Catherine Kennedy ’12, a dual concentration Studio and Visual Arts major, commented. “We were members and went to places in the Louvre that I never knew existed, and I had been there solely as a tourist before.”

The students studied the art in various museums in Paris, in addition to the Louvre, and were also required to draw pictures of sites they visited with corresponding thoughts on the location. They also learned extensively about the art in these museums. While this may have been an advantage for students with an interest in both art and art history, such as Kennedy, Rachel Feldman ’12 a Visual Arts and Spanish double major wishes there had been more separation between the two disciplines studied in the program.

“We learned together, and the art history people were miserable because they had to draw and I was miserable with the art history aspect,” Feldman commented. “It was interesting, but I would rather be drawing.”

In addition to her desire to separate the two groups of students, Feldman also expressed that she, “would give a syllabus at the beginning of what’s expected so there’s no confusion. I would be clearer on what they’re looking for.” Kennedy echoed Feldman’s desire to know more about the trip prior to the group’s arrival in Paris.

The trip itself has evolved over the years it has been offered, with no two times being exactly the same. Ogawa explained, “When I started here in 1999 it was specifically [an art history trip]. Since then it has expanded to including a course on printmaking and this year was the first year that we did a combined interdisciplinary drawing and art writing class. So, this year was kind of an experiment.”

The trip also experienced a slight accounting malfunction that resulted in students being given $25 per day for food instead of £25. The slight miscalculation did not significantly impact these students’ trips. “It was a mistake in translating what is a very complicated budget and getting that through the accounting stuff and getting that to the students in the form of their lunch money,” Ogawa explained. “It was basically an honest mistake, but we did have the capacity and the means to correct it before anybody was in danger of starving or any of that.”

Even with this small mistake, overall students were content with the trip that was organized. “When it comes down to it, when I would personally complain, I would think to myself  ‘Why am I complaining, I’m in Paris!’ so I think that kind of over shined everything,” Kennedy concluded.

The student artwork from the Paris mini-term will be displayed in the Wyckoff Student Gallery in the Nott Memorial.


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