Location | Paris: Meet Field School Blogger Roxanne Charles

Meet Roxanne!
Tell us a little bit about yourself—school, background, major, reasons for taking this trip, anything else interesting you want to share.

Deanna, Alison, and Roxanne sit atop the Arc de Triomphe at sunset
Bonjour, je m’appelle Roxanne. I am a student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and I am currently completing my third year in the BFA program. I returned to school as a mature student in 2008 to pursue a career in art. From a young age I have always had a passion to create but never felt like university was a place for me or that art was a practical way to make a living. However, I am really enjoying the university environment and the small tight knit community at Kwantlen. Since returning to school I have taken an interest in anthropology and art history and have been working on acquiring extra credits for these fields as well. It is my hope to graduate from Kwantlen with a double major in Anthropology and a minor in Art History. I believe that all of these are key elements not only for my education and art work but also for knowledge as an educator. It is my hope I can use this knowledge to design and implement aboriginal based curriculum something that I have always been strongly involved in with the Surrey School District as well as Kwantlen. I chose to come on this trip for a few reasons. I am a single mother of two and living in an aboriginal community where you don’t get to see that many people graduate or travel. I really wanted to show my community and my children that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. That and I truly believe that this experience will help me become a better teacher in the future for I will have visited things other people only had the opportunity to read about. It is belief experiencing something is much different than reading about it.  I believe that the hands on experience will have a direct impact on how I engage with the work and am able to discuss it.

What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris so far?

Well I am not going to lie. Upon my arrival I was extremely disappointed in Paris, but the longer I am here the more interesting it becomes. Perhaps it is because I am so used to seeing romanticized images of Paris and how beautiful and amazing it is that visually it was nothing like I expected. I realized how lucky we are to live in Canada. To have such clean streets, open spaces, free toilettes and much much more. The city however is huge and not all of it looks so rough, I have seen some amazing architecture and sculpture both old and new that has truly made this trip worthwhile. Last night we had the opportunity to take in a show at the Moulin Rouge and it was by far the best night out yet. There is definitely a strong sense of history and culture in Paris one that I quite enjoy. They have acquired and amazing collection of art it seems like everything we have ever discussed in art history sits in these collections and it was interesting to be able to see them first hand. Some not so interesting, perhaps in the age of reproduction the aura has been tainted. There were however pieces that exceeded my expectations and those were the Renoir Paintings and the Victoire de Samothrace. My most enjoyable museum experience this far has been sitting and sketching the Nike figure Victoire de Samothrace from real life. It was so inspirational and definitely an amazing experience.

Edgar Degas, Mrs Jeantaud in the Mirror (c. 1875)
Give us some insight into your assigned art work from the Muse 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?

For my research assignment I was assigned was Edgar Degas’ Mrs. Jeantaud in the Mirror, which is an odd piece in comparison to a lot of Degas’ other works. Unlike his eloquent pastel sketches of the bathers or dancers, this painting is dark and eerie. I quite enjoyed the research aspect of looking into history of the work and what had been written about it but visually the painting is not very pleasing at least for my taste. The painting itself though, conceptually has many possibilities and perhaps we will never know its true meaning or purpose. After viewing this piece up close, there is one thing that is definitely certain and that is as a viewer you become trapped between multiple views. The viewer becomes tempted to gaze at the beauty of Mrs. Jeantaud, needing no permission to look into this private moment as she sits in front of a mirror with her back to us. Until we become confronted with what appears to be at first glance a reflection in the mirror. Yet something is off. An inaccurate view, off perspective, strange scale, it doesn’t even look like what we would expect Mrs. Jeantaud to look like. Instead it appears to be a haunting ghost like figure who appears confrontational and denies you permission to gaze. I don’t know how else to better explain it. Perhaps you should take a trip to the Musee d’Orsay and see if you find it as eerie as I do.

Today’s activity was at the Louvre and also the Arc d’ Triumph.  What were your impressions?  What will you take away of the experience?  What, if any are the memorable moments for you?
Crowds gather around the iconic Winged Victory at the Louvre
(photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)

Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye had art works "intervening"
in many parts of the Louvre-- including this stunning twisted
cathedral sculpture in the lobby of the Louvre
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)
Well today we had the pleasure of visiting the Louvre and WHAT AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE THAT WAS. Knowing how large of a museum it is I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to cover the whole thing. However much to my surprise, I did. I even retraced my steps and looked at my map sure that I must have missed something. It was much easier leave knowing I hadn’t missed a thing. It was nice to be able to explore on my own, taking my time with the things that interested me the most and I felt really lucky to have the opportunity to take in such amazing art objects. The one thing I realized was the sheer scale of France’s wealth and the size of their collection. I loved every minute of the experience from the tiny beads and watches to the divine apartments of Napoleon-- it still amazes me that they had such technology so long ago. I would say the most shocking and amazing experience was in Napoleon’s apartments. It was lined with the most amazing sculptures I have ever seen-- so contemporary in appearance even for today. There were three types of sculpture in particular that spoke to me the most and it wasn’t the chandeliers or the furniture, it was the huge gold sculptures, silver table ornaments, and large stuffed animals that scattered the rooms. I would have never in a million years thought to find such objects in these rooms. The gold sculptures presented such movement. They were often two figures dancing one usually more recognisable then the second gold castings so futuristic and modern in appearance.
The silver ornaments that lined the table tops were just as breath-taking. They were silver spheres that employed dynamic sense of balance, weight and negative space. Truly beautiful in their simplicity and upon closer observation I realized wow these are sculptures of Christ on the cross. I was just in awe at how contemporary these objects really were (and then it was finally revealed to me that they were contemporary art works placed inside the rooms!). Last but not least, I couldn’t talk about the objects in the room without mentioning the stuffed pigs which I had to giggle at. They matched the couches in fabric and were large in size. I just thought they were very fitting in a place filled with such wealth. Overall, the day was amazing and we topped it off that evening with a beautiful view of Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog entry and hearing about our adventures because there are many more to come.
If you look carefully in the foreground, you will spot the artfully arranged stuffed pigs Roxanne is speaking about!
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)