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Dakota Rhodes ’18

Dakota Rhodes ‘18

Dakota Rhodes​

Architecture as Art

I was walking through Berlin, on my way to Checkpoint Charlie when what I had been learning at Wabash had kicked in. It was a utopic moment of clarity when I could clearly see the difference in the eastern and western Berlin architecture. It sounds so simple, but this was a defining moment for myself. I had been learning about art and architecture through my many classics classes at Wabash, and then I saw its practicality in real life. Architecture is more than a way of building; it is a way to express a cultures view of the world around them. No architect has ever built something because it looks beautiful; they built it for a reason beyond what a wondering eye can see. The difference in architecture was astounding and showed the separation of a capitalistic view of the world and a communistic past. This was so astounding to me because it is something that everyone else looked past. The public was looking for touristy shops and landmarks, but to stop for a moment and wonder, wonder how great men and women depicted their timeline through these buildings, incredible. I wouldn’t have been able to experience this profound moment without the help of the Givens Family. It is because of them that I was able to experience art as it was supposed to be experienced, in person and with insurmountable appreciation.


Michael Lumpkin ’18

Michael Lumpkin ’18

Arch of Titus

Michael Lumpkin at the Arch of Titus

Coming into my Junior year at Wabash College, I had not given the study of Western European Art nearly the time or attention it deserves. Over the past 9 months, through my studies at Wabash College and my study abroad experience so generously supported by the Given’s Family, I have had the opportunity to learn and capture the essence of what art means to our world. At Wabash in the Fall of 2016, I took Dr. Hartnett’s “Roman Art & Archaeology” class, an experience that opened my eyes to the splendors of the art world. This newfound interest inspired me to take the “Introduction to Spanish Art” class spring semester here in Valencia, Spain at the University of Virginia in Valencia. This class has allowed me to look at the different periods in the history of Western European Art, with a special focus on the artists and influences present in Spain.

Combined with my classroom experience, I have been lucky enough to travel and see some of Europe’s finest art first-hand. In April, I visited the Rome, Italy, where I spent time at the Roman Forum. Much of the art and architecture that had previously consisted of the Roman Forum has now been destroyed over the centuries, but one sacred piece of art that remains is the Arch of Titus. On the Arch, one can see the vivid imagery of battle during the Roman period, religious depictions, and how Emperors of the time portrayed themselves to their people. These were images the Roman people saw daily, as they traveled on Rome’s main road under the arch, the Via Sacra. Having just had seen pictures of Victory Arches like these before through my “Roman Art & Archaeology” class, the opportunity to see the Arch of Titus in person was an experience I will never forget. A second experience I found captivating was my visit to the “Sagrada Família” in Barcelona, Spain. A Basilica still yet to be completed after over 100 years of construction, and a creation based on the vision of artist Antoni Gaudí, this building is covered with incredible artwork both inside and out. Lastly, my experience visiting the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain is something I will never forget. Especially the works Francisco Goya, which portrayed historical scenes in incredibly vivid fashion, left me captivated at the images and with a further understanding of history.


Marcus Hoekstra ’18

Marcus Hoekstra in Alhambra’s garden.

Marcus Hoekstra ‘18

Spain’s beautiful symbiosis of religion

“Wow…that’s great…so what made you study religion?” It’s a common response to a frequent question. What made me study religion? You see, what most people don’t understand, is that the study of spirituality extends far beyond future priests and pastors. First and foremost, as any education is, it is an understanding. It is an introspection into human thought, history, and questions concerning matters greater than oneself, be it spirit or culture. It is the close analyzation of themes, tradition, and the interchange of ideas. No, I never thought I would study it. But yes, I quite enjoy it.

You see, what Wabash has provided me over the past three years is the opportunity to engage with these concepts on a day to day basis. It has sat myself down in a classroom, for hours every week, and pushed me to speak thoughtfully of books taken hundreds, if not thousands of years to writes. No small challenge indeed. It has provided me a foundational understanding on the function of religiosity, its role in this world, and more importantly its place within the human story. So why study religion? Because with these tools, one may begin to better understand current issues such as the ongoing Middle Eastern unrest, disparities in country secularization levels, and their impacts reaching into political, cultural, even economic spheres.

Nasrid palace

Magical, indeed. However, as Herbert Spencer once said, “the ultimate aim of education is not knowledge but action.” Personally, I could not agree anymore with this statement. Recently this phrase has embodied itself in my life in two very powerful ways. The first, was my immersion trip to Israel this past Fall where we studied ongoing inter religious conflict, commonalities, and influence. The second, and more importantly, has been my semester abroad in Valencia, Spain. During my time here, I have been given the chance to engage with Spanish lifestyle, live with a host family, while loving every moment of it. However, much of Spain’s past and present has not always been as “Spanish” as we know it today. Thanks to the Givens Endowment, I have grown to understand this.

I’ve always had a respect for art. Although not an area that I am the most knowledgeable in, it has always fascinated me in its diversity of styles and periods. Being so, the Givens Scholarship has provided me a chance to deepen my artistic understanding of Western culture. With my grant statement, I chose to focus on the Islamic influence of Western art. What better of a place to begin than Spain? For some 400 years, Muslims controlled much of the Iberian Peninsula, infusing its ideas and styles into a Western-Christian Spain. No better can this be seen than in the architecture and of the Alhambra.

Situated in Granada, Spain, this UNESCO World Heritage is one of the largest palaces in Europe. Bearing the mark of Islamic calligraphy, paintings, and wall decorations, much of the original Muslim foundations stand next to gothic and renaissance era churches. I best observed this in the Nasrid palace, in which beautiful courtyards built by Muslim architects have been renovated by Christian builders.

Below the castle, much of the Granada’s architecture and artistic works possess inter religious influences seen in the Alhambra above. Ornate vaulted arches among the Granada’s cathedrals reminisce of their Islamic origins.

Ultimately, it is to say, that the Givens Scholarship has provided me with the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real world experience, deepening my appreciation of Spain’s beautiful symbiosis of religion. The Givens has offered me a chance to delve deeper into one of my final Fall course papers and elaborate on my classes here in Spain. It has been a truly wonderful opportunity. Thanks to the Givens family, this has all been possible.

 

 


Jacob Covert ’18

Jacob Covert ’18

Islamic Art and Architecture in the Spanish Context

Jacob Covert on his study abroad in Spain

Art is often one of the most omnipresent constants in our lives; however, it often goes unnoticed to the unknowing or untrained eye. I can say that before this semester in Spain, I was one of the millions of people that passed art in any form without a second thought. However, there was one class that I had been encouraged to take by previous Wabash men from this program called Islamic Art and Architecture in the Spanish Context. This amazing class shows the progression of how Islam and Christianity have impacted each other to create art that has never been seen before within Andalucía. Furthermore, this class has shown the lasting impact that art can have on a community and in my case even a society.

I remember starting this class feeling overwhelmed because I was taking a class about a subject I had never studied before, in a different language, with no previous context to help. Yet, as the weeks passed by my knowledge of the basic understanding of Islamic art and architecture grew and little by little my eyes began to open to the world of art. It was truly thanks to the Givens Family that I was finally able to place all that I had learned into the proper perspective when I had the opportunity to visit the Mosque turned Cathedral of Córdoba. From the second that I entered the building, my breath was taken away, as all that I had been studying for months was realized in a single moment. When I walked in I instantly saw the thousands of arches called De entibo in Spanish due to their layered design and striped color. Moreover, as I continued to explore I could see the Islamic influence on the art and architecture. For example, there are no statues of paintings of people or faces within the old area of the mosque because the religion of Islam does not allow for these images, therefore, the exquisite artists of the past compensated for this by creating intricately designed epigraphy on the walls within the whole complex that were laced with secondary meanings, such as political agendas, Islamic verses, or poetry. Furthermore, all the epigraphy was meant to represent water, as water is an important concept within their religious art and is a representation of purity within Islam.

Jacob Covert ’18

In addition to the amazingly intricate art and architecture of the religion of Islam, there were also masterpieces created by the Christians when they conquered southern Spain. An interesting contrast between the two religions was that Christian artists could create statues and paintings with real figures of people, which did not exist before in the artwork of this region. However, the most important contrast that exists between the two religions is the use of light in artwork and, more importantly, the architecture of the Cathedral. I remember that when touring the building I was astounded by how dark it was within the older Muslim portions of the structure, yet as the tour continued there was a distinct change that took place when I enter the area that was redesigned and constructed by the Christians. Within a matter of two steps I was flooded with light and brilliant pieces of artwork depicting the story of Christ. The contrast was as blatant as day is to night because the Mosque turned Cathedral of Córdoba allows for the mixture of two completely different cultures to intersect and be seen as a whole.

While I have had the opportunity to see and visit museums and masterpieces from famous artists like Van Gogh and Picasso, the reason I have focused on the Cathedral of Córdoba was because it was the creation of master artists and architects of two different cultures. The incredible designs, paintings, and architecture give a little glimpse of the two different culture’s view on how art within the Spanish context should be viewed and depicted. Yet, both the art and architecture of both the Christians and Muslims work harmoniously with each other to create the breathtaking structure that is the Cathedral of Córdoba. It was truly the generosity of the Givens Family that brought this dream to fruition during my semester in Granada, Spain and I truly would like to thank them for all that they have allowed me to do.


Zackery Carl ’18

Painting from the Sistine Chapel

Zackery Carl ’18

Sistine Chapel

During my time abroad, I have had the opportunity to see absurdly beautiful architecture and art, such as Gaudi’s Casa Batlló, the Seville Cathedral, and The School of Athens by Raphael. Among all the works I have seen this semester, the most profound work I have seen are the paintings within the Sistine Chapel, especially The Last Judgement.

The sheer scale of the Michelangelo’s paintings within the Sistine Chapel was outstanding. Although you can always find pictures of the Internet of “The Fall of Man” or The Last Judgment, it is almost impossible to appreciate the intricate details that are present within all the works within the Sistine Chapel. My personal favorite hidden gem within the Sistine Chapel is in The Last Judgment. During the tour, our guide pointed out the bottom right corner of this fresco, where the damned are depicted descending into hell. As Michelangelo was working on The Last Judgment”, the pope’s Master of Ceremonies stated that it was “most disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully,” and that it was “no work for a papal chapel but rather for the public baths and taverns.” Because of this, Michelangelo painted the Master of Ceremonies face on Minos, the judge of the dead in the underworld in Greek Mythology, with donkey ears, emphasizing the foolishness of the Master of Ceremonies. Of course, the Master of Ceremonies objected to the pope at the time, Pope III, but the Pope told him “God has given me a certain degree of authority in Heaven and on earth, but it does not extend to hell.” As we continued our tour into St. Peter’s Basilica, I could not get this story out of my mind. Although you hear all the time how much larger than life the artists such as Michelangelo were during this time period, the fact that Michelangelo was able to paint in the Vatican a high level religious leader at the time as a devil-like figure without any repercussions gave me a perspective as to how prominent of a figure he was during this time.

Before I left for Spain I did not have a true appreciation for art; the Sistine Chapel, along with the other works I have seen this semester, has given me a true appreciation for art. The small details, the ridiculous scale, and the true beauty that I have noticed while looking at these works have developed my appreciation for art and the artists that produce such works. I would like to thank the Givens Family for helping me fund my studies. Without their help, I would not have been able to travel and experience all the architecture and art I have this semester.


Andrew Brake ’18

Andrew Brake ’18

“How art reflects society and class relations”

Brake in front of Monumento a Los Abagados de Atocha – a statue that honors CCOO lawyers and PCE members who were murdered during Spain’s democratic transition after the death of Franco.

My experience discovering western art in Europe has been incredible thanks to the Givens Scholarship. The scholarship gave me the power to venture and discover the many underlying purposes of art. Initially, when I earned the scholarship I planned to study how artists portrayed the Habsburg family’s extensive power in Europe. This goal led me to incredible places like Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Madrid’s Prado. However, as my artistic studies continued with the Habsburg family, I started to become aware of specific underlying patterns in art that I had not seen before. I saw the many fluctuations of how artists portrayed different classes and aspects of society and how in some time periods we get very little idea of the common man’s artistic expression and view of class and society. I found this to be very fascinating and enriching for my historical outlook of art. Rather than simply admiring artists for their skill and craft I enjoyed asking, “why was this made?” and “how does this reflect society?”

The photo is of a statue that had a profound impact on me regardless of whether or not it being labeled a profound masterpiece known throughout the world. The statue honors four CCOO lawyers and PCE members who were murdered by neofascist supporters during Spain’s democratic transition after the death of Francisco Franco. I found this profound because I had an internship with the CCOO (Workers’ Commissions; Spanish: Comisiones Obreras, CCOO) and that not too long ago people were killed for their affiliation with the syndicate. It was a strange feeling. It also left me appreciating what the Givens Scholarship helped me achieve when looking at art, which was asking the question why more often and looking deeper into the reasons why art is made and how art reflects society and class relations. I would like to thank the Givens Family again for their contributions to many men at Wabash, including me.