Location | Paris: Meet Field School Blogger Tessa Nickel

Meet Tessa!

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

Hey there, my name is Tessa Nickel and I am a Bachelor of Fine Arts major at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an artist. I remember specifically when I was seven years old drawing myself, with a paintbrush in hand, and although my facial features were in direct proportion to that of a Picasso guitar, I proudly stated, "when I grow up, I am going to be an artist!" Although I don't think I really knew what that meant at that age, here I am studying the works of some of the most well-known artists in the world, in the very place that they practiced their craft. I came on the trip for this exact reason. Sitting in a lecture hall with a slide projector at times made me feel so detached from the art works I was viewing. To come to this beautiful city and be close enough to touch the works of Van Gogh or Monet has been so surreal for me.
Checking out the view of the Haussmann buildings from the Opera. Left to right:
Andres, Yvonne, Jessica, Rosaura, Rhea, Courtney, Tessa, Kyubo, Amanda
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris so far?

The biggest thing that surprised me was the kindness of the people. I had constantly been told how rude Parisians were and that as an English speaker I would be treated terribly, but I haven't found this at all. These people are proud of their language and take pride in their city that is so full of history and culture. They demand respect for it from people who visit and so what people sometimes take as rudeness, I see it as their right. If you treat the people, their space, and their environment with a sense of quiet observation and avoid the mentality of a bull in a china shop, they will pay you the same courtesy. However, if you are obnoxious, loud, butcher their language, and don't apologize for any of it, I see it as an okay for them to mock you a bit in their Parisian fashion.

Tessa capturing the action along a busy Parisian boulevard
(photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
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?

Vincent Van Gogh, The Dance Hall in Arles (1888)
There is something about Van Gogh that I have felt connected to as a person. Now I am not saying that I am about to take hard to drugs and alcohol and cut my ear off, but I feel like his heavy struggle as an artist is something any of us art students could relate to. On the second day of being in Paris when we went to the Orsay and I finally got to see my assigned painting The Dance Hall in Arles in person, and it was a lot more emotional then I had expected it to be. The colours of the work were so much more cohesive and rich then when I viewed it in a book. When seeing this work in person and in an amazing environment like the Orsay, it was so entirely different then viewing it in any classroom at home. His thick and gestural style of painting onto the canvas gave life to the work. I could see his perfections and mishaps all just inches from my eyes. Being able to see his work so closely made me feel closer to Van Gogh, as I could visualize him working and I was so close to something that he had poured his soul into. I never thought I could feel a connection like that to another artist that had lived 100 years before me.

Today’s activity was at the Palais de Tokyo and the Paris Museum of Modern Art. What were your impressions?  What will you take away of the experience?  What, if any are the memorable moments for you?

The "Intense Proximities" exhibition was made even more ironic with the presence
of African museum attendants around every corner. While not an intended part of the show,
they were very much part of the conversation students had at the Palais de Tokyo
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)
Today we went to the Palais De Tokyo, a contemporary art museum that I had never previously heard of before today. After this past week, where we had spent every day at a different museum, where they seemed to grow larger and with bigger, more beautiful bodies of work, my brain (and my particularly angry feet) felt entirely spent. I didn't know if I could handle another museum. I didn't expect a lot walking in, but this has been my favourite gallery we have been to so far. It is so unique from anywhere I have her been. It was so much more interactive then any of the museums masked with "do not touch" signs we had already experienced. Many of the pieces invited you to walk within or among them, to walk into a pitch black room and view them. You gained a connection from their accessibility and the modern issues they challenged you to stare straight in the face of. The environment of the three floored gallery was also amazing. The building on the inside had an unfinished industrial feel that itself was an installation as opposed to the stark pristine white walls of a classic gallery. They also allowed you to view the process of the future shows being installed, which is something people rarely get to see in a gallery, which was one of my favourite parts of the experience. The one thing I would have a criticism about were that the security guards were almost all African. In a gallery where a large percentage of the works were based on racial issues, I had originally thought that it may have been part of the show. After speaking with Dorothy however, she had informed me it was not on purpose. The irony of this issue being within a place questioning racial issues particularly baffled me, but I made a conscious effort to not let this affect my view of the art work being displayed. These works were really in a place I hope to work toward in my art practice, and an amazing introduction of what is to come when our group heads to Kassel, Germany for Documenta to see an international exhibition of some of the greatest that contemporary art has to offer. 
Political graffiti was a prominent part of the downstairs exhibition space in the areas undergoing
renovation at the museum (photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)