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).
My name is Ciska Jans, and I am a third year Fine Arts student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. As well as fine arts, I am studying psychology. At the end of my program, I will be attending Adler University for Art Therapy. I am attending this field school because I have been given multiple opportunities to travel abroad, and I continuously declined the chance. However after I heard about this program, I felt that I had to go, it was a once in a life time chance to travel abroad on my own and be able to see works of art that I adored and works of art that I have learned to adore. I have never been able to travel by myself before and it is a very terrifying experience, as well as exciting, being able to make your own decisions and follow your own agenda rather than somebody else’s is quite amazing. Outside of school, I am a server at a restaurant and a call taker at the Crisisline. I am attempting to achieve to find a job that gives me more purpose. I find myself to be a bubbly, passionate character, that has a lot of joy in their heart, as well as angry passion in their heart for human rights.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about London (or Venice) so far?
I came into London with not many expectations at hand. I was expecting much more fashion forward people that put a lot of effort into their sense of style but I have not seen much otherwise. I was not expecting people to be rude on the sidewalks, with shoving and not being able to have the right of way. I have also learned how impatient drivers are on the road with speeding and using their horns excessively. Other small factors that have shocked me while in London were the variety of different bathroom door locks or the amount of homeless people that have dogs. I have also been shocked with the mixture of old buildings with new buildings, looking at an older church or an older structure with a brand-new sky rise with glorious windows and expansions in the background—it is quite overwhelming to the eyes. London is much more than British citizens—there are people from all over Europe who are coming to London either for pleasure or for permanence and it brings back that multi-cultural factor that Canada has held pride for, for years. I was happily struck with the amount of free galleries that are in London, allowing all sorts of classes to be able to experience works that they can relate to their own lives/experiences.
Give us some insight into your assigned artwork from the Tate Modern. After seeing the work in person in London (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.
When I saw Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! (1963) at the Tate Modern, I was shocked with the scale of the work. I was not expecting such a large panel for a work that was supposed to be depicted in a comic book. The colours were much more vibrant in person, the yellows and reds stuck out the most to me, as well as the pointillism. Lichtenstein has another work that was a Pop-Art explosion cut out, that at first glance thought belonged in the piece. I wish it had because it depicted the idea of a missile flying through the sky and exploding, which gave it a much more dramatic effect. The context from the work didn’t change from when I first saw it to when I saw it in person, because the work requires much more context that meets the eye. I didn’t feel joyed or overwhelmed when I saw the work (besides the size being beyond my expectations).
How did you approach the creative task of responding to your assigned artists in studio? What were your challenges as an artist to be in dialogue with the artwork and artist? Would you do anything differently now that you have seen the work in person?
Before seeing my assigned artists in person, I only felt a strong connection to Sarah Lucas’ work Pauline Bunny (1997) and only a mere interest in Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam!. Lucas’ piece gave me an automatic response, being inspired by a woman being held down by their femininity and being objectified by men was something I could personally related to. With Lichtenstein I had a couple ideas run through my mind, but nothing I could directly relate to. Though I am a large advocate for basic human rights and using love over war, I cannot say I have personal experiences with those two factors that made Lichtenstein’s work so strong, and my response to that work wasn’t what it could have been. Seeing both the works in person, I felt overwhelmed with joy seeing Lucas’ work, and I wouldn’t have changed anything with the response I made because I find that it directly correlated with being objectified. I’m uncertain I would change anything about my work in response to Lichtenstein’s, possibly change the writing on the walls to comic style but otherwise I wouldn’t change anything.
Today’s activity was located at the British Museum. What were your impressions? What will you take away of the experiences of this day? What are the most memorable moments for you?
Today’s activity was located at the British Museum. When I first laid eyes on the museum itself, it looked like a replica of the Parthenon. Inside were these beautiful scriptures of greek mythology and partially destroyed statues, and I was over the moon to see such phenomenal structures. Seeing Greek figures (such as Venus, Apollo, Hermes and the Centaur) it was amazing to invest time in viewing how they were depicted by the Greek artists. While inside the museum, I had found a smaller Greek temple replica that caught my interest, and I was in awe with what the structure had to hold. As I strolled through the gallery, the Egyptian works also caught my eyes. I love seeing the original Cleopatra sarcophagus, as well as some mummified corpses. I felt some sort of sadness for the exposed corpses, it is a saddening thing to see a body that was once a human be surrounded by other humans taking photos and mocking their figure. On the bright side, I was completely in awe with the amount of Egyptian scriptures and memorial statues they had, and it made me feel excited since I’ve been learning about Egyptian culture for so many years. Later in the day was much more relaxed, I went on a stroll and fell upon a tunnel covered with street art, as well as some artists performing street art. There was a beautiful mixed combination of much more rendered portraits, to tagging, to line drawings. It was amazing to watch these artists and what seemed like a safe place for an artist to work. I found works relating to the AIDS crisis, to Brexit, to fun made-up cartoons. Later, I found a quaint restaurant that served the most delicious Portobello mushrooms with Brie cheese and other vegetables that gave me some nutrients back from constantly being on the run.