Students Learn About Art Through Travel, Experiences


Imagine a spring break spent amid the glories of Venice: gondolas gliding between ancient palaces, creamy gelato, artwork by Giovanni Bellini, and lively lessons with noted professors of the history of Italian art.

It's not just a fantasy for students at MassArt. This describes the actual spring break 2012 trip for sixteen MassArt students. They traveled to Venice, Italy, not just for fun but also for credit.

History of Art professors David Nolta and Ellen Shapiro have been teaching this course for fifteen years. Each year, they travel with a group of students to Italy – the city changes from year to year – for two weeks. The intention is to "immerse students in the culture of that region and imbue in them an appreciation and understanding of its history, its urban and rural landscapes, its public and domestic architecture, and the immeasurable impact of its artistic legacy in every medium and on every scale."

Needless to say, it's quite popular.

Alexandra Ford is a junior studying studio education with a concentration in painting. She traveled to Venice with the class this year.

"I really wanted to do some kind of traveling abroad, but I couldn't do a full semester so this was a really great alternative," she said. "With painting, we have all these art history prerequisites, but it was completely different to see it all in person."

Although the trip sounds like a magnificent vacation, remember, this is for college credit. It is more than simple sightseeing, but Ford said the "education" of the trip only improved her experience.

"It was a once in a lifetime experience because David and Ellen are so knowledgeable and so easy to travel with," she said.  "It also definitely broke down the barrier for being able to travel because it was a guided, group thing. Now I feel like it's much more feasible to do something like that after I graduate."

The course occurs in the spring every year and is open to students of all majors and years. There are also scholarships available to help defray the cost. Take it from the current students; this opportunity is definitely one to investigate! Learn more about travel courses from the office of international education.