In the summer of 2012, a Western Washington University student stood crying tears of joy in front of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” while visiting New York City with Professor of Art Garth Amundson and Associate Professor of Art Pierre Gour.
Seeing that student’s emotional response was the genesis of “Metro Art Access: NYC,” a 10-day summer course offered through Extended Ed and Summer Programs, that provides all Western students the chance to travel to New York City to see some of the most famous museums and pieces of art in the world.
“Pierre and I like to challenge students with the idea that this is not just a trip, this is a course,” said Amundson. “It is a writing-intensive course that explores the nuts and bolts of the city and its artwork.”
Students experience 10 days of visiting museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim, with additional course work before and after their stay in New York City.
“We take the students on the subway and walk all over the city during the day and then the students have the opportunity to see more of the city after dinner,” said Gour. “Some students go to Broadway shows and some go explore more museums.”
When exploring the Big Apple at the end of the day, there is one rule: be ready at 9 a.m. the next day for more museums, galleries, and art studios.
Another powerful aspect of this course is the opportunity for students to talk with professionals who make a living as artists in New York City. One professional they meet is Western alumna Debbi Kenote.
Kenote opens up her art studio for the course and gives students the chance to see that someone graduating from Western can make it in New York.
“This is not a professional practice class, it’s about what students can do after university with an art degree,” said Amundson.
After the trip is complete, the class is not over. Once home, students are required to create their own artwork for an exhibit at Western’s B Gallery, located in the Fine Arts building, this fall quarter.
Currently, the course only goes to New York City.
“In the future, we are hoping to take students to different cities around the country,” said Amundson. “Los Angeles would most likely be the next city.”
For more information about “Metro Art Access: NYC” go to: https://metroartaccess.wordpress.com/welcome/.