Tell us a little bit about yourself—your background, major program of study, reasons for taking this trip, and anything else interesting you want to share (maybe something people might not know about you).
I am a first year Fine Arts student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I have taken drawing classes since I was ten years old and I have fallen in love with crafts since I was five. I recently learned how to paint while taking classes at Kwantlen and I highly enjoy it. My strengths in art usually gravitate toward colours. The thing I love most about art is the emotive quality. I love how I am able to express how I feel in a safe place where everyone is supportive. Another artistic hobby I am very fond of is acting; I have been acting ever since I was thirteen when I stumbled upon a class by accident. Acting has taught me a lot of things: to never be afraid of failure, to just be yourself, and to try to strive for perfection, knowing that perfection is not attainable but if we chase it, we can catch excellence.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris (or Kassel) so far?
Before coming to Paris, I never thought that I would love the “pretentious” part of Paris. I felt that perfect things were far too artificial for my liking, but when I got here I ended up loving this part of Paris. Because of the rich history and culture Paris exhibits, the city speaks to what I love about travelling. My thirst for antiques has been quenched by all the vastly educational and lovely museums. The architectural details on the buildings baffled me. I had goosebumps just looking at the beautiful sculptures adorning the building of the Louvre. I love the adorable qualities of all the old pastel coloured apartments. The random graffiti also enhanced the artsy feeling of Paris. What surprised me the most was how important the café culture here is. It is extremely different than what I am used to in Vancouver. In Vancouver, there is a large take-out culture, whereas in Paris people stay at least an hour in cafés.
Give us some insight into your assigned artwork from the Orsay Musuem. After seeing the work in person in Paris (and any other related art from the same artist or art movement associated with the assigned work), what struck you most about it and/or how did the artwork’s form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it.
The painting that was chosen for me was Renoir’s The Swing (1876). Renoir was known as an artist with impeccable talent and painted scenes that encompassed a happy feeling. The figures and background for The Swing were loosely painted – giving an Impressionist feel. Renoir beautifully captures the afternoon sunlight shining on the leaves and forest floor. The male figure facing away from the audience can be seen speaking with the women on the swing. The woman on the swing is looking away with a flushed face. On the left, there is a gentlemen and young adolescent, lovingly looking at the two other figures’ interaction. When I finally got to see the work in person at the Orsay with the other Impressionist works, I realized how Renoir was different from the rest. He made the figures more life-like compared to other artists, but was still able to incorporate the Impressionist brushwork and context into his work.
Today’s activity was the trip from Paris to Kassel, Germany by train. What were your impressions? What will you take away of the experiences of this day? What are the most memorable moments for you?
Today the group and I took a 5-hour trip by train to Kassel, Germany. Since I have never been on a train before and did not know what to expect, the ride was surprisingly very pleasant. When we got to Kassel, we were able to have a traditional German meal for dinner. I got to eat Schnitzel, bratwurst, and -of course- beer. Everything was very delicious and for a cheap price. The things I remembered doing before I left Paris were the Les 4 Temps department store and the catacombs of Paris. At the department store in the newer part of Paris, La Defense, I was surprised to see a gigantic glass arch right in front of the metro exit. Later, I was told that the arch was built in relationship to the Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde, and the Louvre. The placement and alignment of all the buildings surprised me a lot. I realize now through my field school coursework that the French really prioritize their appearance of Paris. Later that day, I went to the catacombs of Paris. I was able to get into the express line because I paid the twenty-seven-euro fee beforehand. The trip toward the underground grave was well worth the money. I have never seen so many human bones stacked in a particular way before. The audio guide also really helped guide me through and understand the necessity of the catacombs.