Location | Paris: Meet Field School Blogger Amanda Powell

Meet Amanda! (photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
Tell us a little bit about yourself—school, background, major, reasons for taking this trip, anything else interesting you want to share.

Amanda enjoys sketching in a Parisian rose garden.
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)
Bonjour! My name is Amanda Powell. I am a third year student currently doing a French major at Simon Fraser University. After completing the coursework for this class, I am now considering doing a Fine Arts minor! In my spare time I enjoy listening to live music, spending time with my family, and watching films. I am one of the few non-studio students on this trip, but I am definitely an art enthusiast. I enjoyed participating in the sketchbook activities given each day; it was a new experience for me to sketch en plein air like the Impressionists we studied! I wanted to take this trip because:
1. I am interested in art and art history.
2. I had never been to Europe (and was keen to see it under an artistic lens with like-minded individuals.)
3. I wanted to practice speaking french.
This trip has been an absolute whirlwind for me; I've learned a lot and I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Europe.

What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Kassel (Germany) so far?
The difference between Paris and Kassel is astounding. We went from being in a busy city with lots of people to a smaller town with lots of greenery. The one thing I really notice here is the language barrier. In Paris, I had little to no trouble communicating with the locals because I can speak, read, write, and understand French. In Kassel, however, the majority of people speak German, a language of which I know very few useful phrases other than: "My name is Amanda," and "Hurry up!" Most of the young people are proficient in English, and the others try very hard to understand you with a giant grin on their faces. Because of this language barrier, Kassel feels a lot more foreign to me than Paris, even though all of the trees and friendly folk remind me of home. In terms of Documenta, the whole exhibition has far exceeded my expectations. I was surprised at how much there is to see! I pictured it being in one big museum, similar to what they have in Paris. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the exhibitions were scattered around the city (especially in the park!)

Erin, Tessa, and Kyubo sort through an interactive installation of "Occupy Kassel" featured at Documenta.
Give us some insight into your assigned art work from the Musee d’ Orsay. After seeing the work in person, what struck you most about it and/or how did the art work’s form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it?

Georges Seurat, Landscape with Puvis de Chavannes' Fisherman (1881)
When I saw my assigned work in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, I felt a little blasé about it. My piece was entitled "Paysage avec "lepauvre pecheur" de Puvis de Chavannes." I think my reaction was mostly due to the small scale of the work (for some reason I expected it to be larger!). The colours of the piece were more vibrant than the dull pixelated image I had studied online all semester, so that was a highlight. The room it was displayed in was very dark, but the lights they had pointing at each artwork made the paint shine, which was a nice touch. I think just the fact that Seurat touched and painted the exact work I was looking at was what made the experience better for me, also, being able to see the work Seurat was inspired by (Puvis de Chavannes' Poor Fisherman) and know that Seurat was once in my shoes, looking at this particular work of art.

Today’s activity was located around Documenta. What were your impressions?  What will you take away of the experience?  What, if any are the memorable moments for you?

Documenta is one of the most important
international art exhibitions, held every five years
in Kassel Germany.
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)
Today I ventured out into town with a few others to find some of the many Documenta exhibits. We got lost trying to find the main building, but we stumbled across some smaller venues along the way. My favourite ‘accidental’ Documenta discovery was a tent made of blankets in a corner of a park. They invited us into their space, we took off our shoes, and we sat on small benches and were offered tea. A nice volunteer informed us of the plight of the people living in the Western Sahara and the work of Robin Kahn, who made a cookbook of recipes on behalf of the women living there. I left the tent feeling enlightened, and mentioned the tent to a few others along the way, insisting they also go and visit the oasis in the corner of the park. Around noon, we met some locals, who insisted we try the German dish called döner. At only three Euros, it was filling and absolutely delicious (with vegetarian options to boot!). We spent the rest of the day looking at art with our new German friends, as they were also here for Documenta, and ended the day at the local biergarten, Fiasko, with our peers and teachers. What a lovely day it was! 
Many nights were spent as a group at the Fiasko beer garden in Kassel-- excellent schnitzel!
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)