MCLA

Walking in Venice

Art students see new and ancient works in Italy


12/09/2009

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, eight students had the opportunity to travel for a week last month with Jonathan Secor, director of special programs, and art instructor Melanie Mowinski to Venice, Italy, to attend the Venice Biennale. There, the work of hundreds of artists was shown in large shows and in the galleries throughout the city, giving the students a view of the very latest in contemporary art from around the world.

"We wanted the students to see what the art world is doing outside of North Adams and MCLA," Secor says. "Not only what Americans are doing, but what they're doing in Asia and in Europe, and to get a view of where the art world is today. In Venice, you've entered a different world in this magical city on water. And every day you're seeing this magical art."

In addition to the art on display at the Biennale, the students traveled throughout the city to see the great works of the Renaissance, including art by Leonardo Di Vinci. They also visited the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the most important museum in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century, and the Accademia Gallery in Venice. Founded in 1750, the Accademia is considered Venice's greatest art gallery. Its collection includes Venetian paintings that span over five centuries.

"I was amazed when I saw pieces by Picasso, and works of art that I had been studying in my art history class. I had the opportunity to experience art history in person," says Kristen Banks '10, an arts management major from Norton, MA.

Art major Ben Warren '11 of West Springfield, MA, took great joy in his Venice adventure: "Figuratively and literally, I lost myself in the culture, the art, and in the city. I love experiencing new places and things, which this trip has introduced me to. I truly wanted to stay in Venice. It was beautiful."

Says Secor, "I love the juxtaposition of being in that ancient city where very little has changed since the 15th century. Things are much like they were in the 1400s, and we spent our days looking at very modern art."

"Going to Venice helped me learn about different artists and about their work. I was able to build up my own personal art portfolio. Being Italian, I got to see and learn more about my family's culture. I was able to come back and talk about my experience with my peers and teachers," says Stephanie Naffah '11 of Groveland, MA, who is studying arts management and art/photography at MCLA.

"I had the greatest time looking at all the different pieces of artwork that artists from around the world have created, as well as trying all the different foods that Venice has to offer," says Rebecca Murdock '10, a studio art major from Pittsfield, MA.

Naffah says the opportunity to try new foods was one of the trip's highlights. "I tried calamari for the first time, and I had never had seafood before."