Location | Paris: Field School Blogging Project

Looking at the Louvre through one of the famous windowed clocks of the Orsay
 You can spot the Sacre Coeuer on Montmarte in the background. (photo by author).
Arriving in Paris late on Sunday night, I was finally able to realize a long-standing desire to travel with a group of engaged and passionate students to see in real life the art works they had come to know in their classes through textbooks, visual reproductions, and the screen. It is very difficult to describe that moment when one first glimpses a work of art they have been deeply inspired by, and it is an experience I wanted to share. There is the initial recognition, the quick scan for all of the features that one loves most, and then the deeply satisfying process of discovering the nuances and contours of the art work in its original form.  But for many people, especially art historians and artists who travel great distances to see inspiring art, it is one that is usually experienced alone or in isolation. I don't know how many times I have had just such a "moment" in a gallery or archive and nearly burst with excitement to share my observations with anyone near me. As such, it is almost impossible to describe how much more amazing these moment are when you witness someone else, or a group of people, making that same discovery. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to be part of this trip, and I, together with my wonderful colleague, field school partner, and artist Nancy Duff, have had the pleasure of witnessing many of those moments already in the short time we have been here.

Students Jessica, Yvonne, and Courtney capturing the views
(photo by author)
To understand Paris is to experience it. It is a city designed to be walked and viewed from many different perspectives. To this end, over the next two weeks, you will be introduced to the students of the field school through their own words, thoughts, and reflections. Each student will be composing their blog post in response to a set of questions that provides some insights into what has interested and surprised them most about Paris, and later on the Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany. In addition, students are being asked to share thoughts about their assigned art works from the Orsay Museum, which have formed a core feature of the studio and art history classes they have taken with Nancy and I (to see all of the assigned art works, check out the dedicated Pinterest board assembled here). We developed the courses carefully and in close connection to one another, addressing the themes of modernity, urban transformation, and avant-garde experimentation associated with the art of Manet and the Impressionists. Before leaving for Paris, the students spent three intensive weeks immersed in the core critical writings, theories, formal approaches and techniques surrounding the Impressionist movement. This culminated in several writing and studio assignments, together with two art exhibitions which demonstrated how students negotiated and developed a visual response to the artist/artwork assigned to them. 

While in Paris, students will be continuing the coursework through a more intimate practice of journal writing and the production of mall scale artworks. Prompted through a daily question connected to the activity of the day, and taking full advantage of the experiential nature of Paris and all that students bring through the knowledge gained in the first part of the courses, each blog post will share some sense of how the trip is being processed through the students' many senses. We invite you to join us and share the journey. 

You can find the dedicated blog, along with daily postings and other images from the trip here-- also see the navigation bar at the top of this page marked "Paris Field School" for a quick link. I will also post all of the individual student entries on my blog mixed in with my own entries for the duration of the trip. We are very lucky with the group we have here in Paris-- I think you will find that out over the next several weeks!
Tuileries Garden (photo by author)