David Daugherty ’19 — Throughout my time studying abroad in Europe this spring, I have found myself in awe of all of the architecture. Every day on my walk to class I am surrounding by incredible architecture and history – the fact that the building I have my classes in is older than the USA never fails to astound me. Furthermore, my class on Islamic art and architecture has further cultivated my desire to experience architecture with a more advanced level of understanding of the stylistic decisions. Through the generous support of the Givens family, I have had the incredibly opportunity to travel to a variety of places to experience different styles including Morocco, Cordoba, Paris, Prague, and Seville.
My class on Islamic architecture has truly allowed me to experience every single aspect of Granada – my place of study. In our weekly visits, we had the opportunity to see and learn in-depth about the Alhambra, the most famous fortress of the Muslims in the Iberian peninsula, la cathedral de Granada built shortly after the catholic takeover, the Capilla Real (the final resting place of Isabel and Fernando who are credited with starting the Spanish empire), and many more places. Furthermore, being in Spain, we had the unique opportunity to view Mudejar art – a unique blend between Islamic art and catholic/gothic art only existing in Spain.
I have been able to use the funds from the Givens scholarship to have a deeper understanding of Gothic and Romanesque art through my visits where I have then been able to pair this new knowledge with my classroom and experiential learning that my program provides. To me, the one place that left me awestruck was the Great Mosque of Cordoba. In class, we spoke much of aniconism – the opposition to the use of idols – in Islamic art and architecture. This is in stark contrast to the style of the Catholics who frequently used sculptures and paintings as decoration. In the mosque turned cathedral post Reconquista, the Catholics put their own cathedral inside the mosque – leaving the mosque entirely intact. This allowed me the opportunity to, with just a turn of my head, see the immense differences between the two religions and their resulting effect on art and architecture.
Once again, I want to thank the Givens family for their support of students like myself. Because of their financial support, they have given me the experience of a lifetime, and one that I surely will never forget.