Students study art in Italy during summer abroad

Western Today staff
Friday, August 16, 2013 - 9:48am

A group of Western Washington University students returned recently from cities throughout Italy, where they spent three weeks studying Italian art in the seven-credit ART394 summer course.

"We were looking at a lot of art very intensely," says Cara Jaye, the art professor who led the trip.

Cynthia Camlin, as associate professor of art at Western, also was on the trip.

The course walks students through a broad range of Italian art, Jaye says.

"As we are traveling in Italy we see artwork that travels through time in some ways," she says. "We start by looking at ancient Rome, move through the Renaissance, Baroque and Modern, and end with up-to the-minute contemporary art. Along the way we see masterpieces in every city, including Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus."

The course ends in Venice, where the class visits the oldest and largest international art fair in the world, the Venice Biennale, which introduces students to an intense crush of contemporary art.

“We spend so much time looking and absorbing,” Jaye says. “The students then respond to what they see during the travels in their own way.”

The summer class offers an intense, on-site study of both classical and contemporary art amidst the beauty of central and northern Italy. The three-week program began in Rome and ended in Venice, with stops in Florence, Siena, and Sant'Anna.

The purpose of the class is to immerse students in Italian art and culture while giving them an international perspective on contemporary art. Students study art, both classical and contemporary, via lectures, readings, museum and gallery visits. They work on several projects, too, using a variety of media to complete three concept based art assignments and a journal of the trip. The first asks students to sketch a map -- from memory -- of the historical center of Rome, including images, experiences, feelings and landmarks. The final assignment “The Stranger and the Journey” asks students to create a narrative piece that includes various items collected from throughout the trip. This work acts as kind of pastiche -- a bringing together of diverse elements and styles to create something new.

Jaye says there will be an exhibition of the students’ projects from the class early in the fall quarter.

The course is one of many faculty-led study abroad courses offered at Western through Extended Education. Other locations for summer 2013 include China, Greece, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania.