Location| Paris: Meet Field School Blogger Courtney Burt

Meet Courtney! Having some fun with the Eiffel tower optics
around the city. 
Tell us a little bit about yourself—school, background, major, reasons for taking this trip, anything else interesting you want to share.

Courtney discovering the bottom end of the famous Louvre pyramid
in the underground entrance to the museum.
(photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
Hey, my name is Courtney Burt and I am a fourth year Bachelor of Fine Arts student studying at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. It was in kindergarten when I won my first award after a drawing I had done at school was submitted to a contest juried in China. I continued to submit artworks to this contest throughout my primary school years never failing to achieve some sort of acknowledgement. This was where my passion and love for creating started. I never really knew exactly what it was that I wanted to do or what I wanted to be-- growing up I focused my time on playing sports and taking art classes, none of which I saw offering a career path. However, my doubts have subsided and doing what I love has lead me to where I am today in my art practice and study. I chose to be a part of this Paris trip because as a traveler I believe that there is a different, a more substantial, unique experience offered within each country. I am learning and experiencing the culture, city and way of life in a way that just being a tourist does not provide. This is my second time traveling with school, my first trip being a semester abroad in Auckland, New Zealand, studying and practicing art at UNITEC. Traveling with school and an open purpose of education is how I see myself continuing my travels for the future, fulfilling my life goal of traveling the world. 
Taking a break at the gardens. From left to right: Rosaura, Courtney, Alison, Tessa.
(photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris so far?
The city of Paris has not shocked me as much as I had predicted. The city itself, as beautiful as it is, does look like every photo or image I have ever seen of it, which I find disappointing. However, what I have found to be most amazing is the city’s transportation system. There is this underground world that is dirty and impressive beyond anything that I have ever experienced. This is my first experience traveling on public transit underground and it is both invasive and congruous at the same time. An intricate maze of metro lines form a busy world beneath a world. You can go from one end of the city to the other without even seeing the city. As sad as it is to travel through the city and not even ever see any of it, the metro system has impressed me substantially, especially being a foreigner and not speaking the language, the metro has provided me with an easy direct way of getting from place to place. I have had many experiences that I will never forget on and getting to the metro. I do want to also bring light to, not only the convenience of the underground, but to the situation that travelers are warned about, what the cities of Europe are known for, pick pocketing. So far in my metro traveling I have witnessed two situations where a young girl has pick pocketed someone and either been caught and taken down by authorities or has accidentally failed and dropped the wallet being stolen (thankfully recovered by the owner). It is one thing to hear the stories about the metro systems in these countries but to actually have your personal space become a stranger’s personal space is the most shocking aspect of the way of life in Paris. If I could describe Paris in one word it would be Invasive.
Paris at night along the Seine.
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?
Gustave Courbet, The Spring (1868)
For this semester and trip I was assigned the art work The Spring by Courbet. I had to search more than others to find my painting in the Orsay as it was located in a room behind a room. This was the first indication that there was a lot more to the context of my painting then I expected, not to mention it was also in the same room as his painting The Origin of the World. Despite the illuminating nature of that painting I was too excited to see my own painting to even notice any others. It was an indescribable moment seeing my painting in real life. In order to fully experience it formally and contextually I grabbed a seat in the middle of the room on the floor and became a part of the entire situation or conversation. My understanding of the images sexual content before the trip was re-emphasized while being in that room because of the other paintings it was placed in presence with. Formally, there is much more of a painterly quality and the colours are brighter, fleshier, and pinker within the nude’s skin. What stood out to me the most is the black halo surrounding the females figure. I am still wondering to myself if this is an intentional quality painted by Courbet and if so what he is saying. This aspect of playing with flatness and depth is also very apparent in the entire painting. I could feel the struggle between them as my eye moved in and out of the image. The top left corner, in the text book images, appears with a lot of depth into a meadow beyond the forest trees, however; in person this area of the painting is completely flat. This creates a fighting struggle with the bottom of the painting, where the left leg of the female penetrates the water, is painted with a realistic reflection that creates realistic depth and entrance for the audience. Seeing the painting in person allows for so much more interpretation and rethinking many aspects of its context.

Today’s activity ended up being at the Catacombs for you. What were your impressions?  What will you take away of the experience?  What, if any are the memorable moments for you?
Miles of skulls and human bones on display at the Catacombs of Paris.
Today’s activity actually became a mish mash of galleries being closed so as an alternative I went to see the Catacombs. What used to be Paris’s stone mines have been renovated and are now known as The Catacombs which is located south of the former city gate, the “Barrière d’ Enfer”. Since 1874 this ossuary has held the remains of about six million people. Today we visited this tunnel that twists and turns underneath one of Paris’s districts. I instantly thought of the relationship between these tunnels and the metro, underground worlds. I just think that it’s interesting how Paris had to resort to life underground, during the renovation, to make room for the ordered structure above ground. After descending down a narrow spiral stone stairwell of nineteen meters we reached the chilling darkness and silence that resides in the long narrow tunnels. Beyond the halls I came upon an opening with the inscription "Arrêt! C’est ici l’empire da la Mort, meaning Halt!" "This is the Empire of the Dead, above the arch way." This was the entrance to the walls and caverns that hold the carefully arranged bones, skulls and femurs. During my experience underground I felt a bit sad, sad that these people were buried once and then dug up from their graves within the city and moved underground and also sad that it was an attraction. I felt though I was invading their spirits or burial grounds. I will make one last connection to these underground Catacombs and the city of Paris, the way the bones were lined up and meticulously placed against the walls in rows and rows reminds me of Haussmannization in the city, rows and rows of buildings all perfectly aligned, not one out of place. Not one bone or skull, not one human being out of place.