Ian Finley ‘19 — It was the 27th of January when I decided to take my first trip in Spain outside of Valencia, where I was studying for the semester, and my first choice was naturally Madrid. This trip was made possible thanks to the Givens family and the Givens Scholarship, which allowed me to visit some of the artistic masterpieces that I had learned about in my art class while abroad. When I was going to Madrid and looking at the Spanish countryside through the window of bus, I knew that it was political capital of Spain. However, after my journey, I realized that Madrid was one of the cultural and artistic capitals of the entire world.
My trip consisted of a variety of visits to new sites with the goal of taking advantage of all that Madrid had to offer. My first chance to experience the artistic patronage of the city was in the Royal Palace. I had never been in a palace before, and this palace did not disappoint. Every room had its own style and everyone of those styles provoked a tremendous sense of awe due to its beauty and opulence.
After this visit, I went to the Reina Sofia Museum, a museum of modern art. There, I saw Picasso’s masterpiece, Guernica, a painting of grand proportions that depicts a tragic scene after the bombing of a town during the Spanish Civil War. I have seen plenty of pictures of this work on a computer screen in various art and spanish classes, but I was never fully able to appreciate the gravity of the event and the importance of the painting until I was able to stand in front of it and allow myself to be overwhelmed by its sheer size and the quantity of details. On top of this painting, I had the opportunity to appreciate many other artistic gems by other famous painters, such as Salvador Dali.
The following day, I went to the museum that contains possibly the finest collection of paintings of anywhere in the world: the Prado Museum. When I enter the Prado, I was blown away by the beauty that lives inside its walls. Velazquez, Goya, El Greco- these are just some of the names that grace the collection. It was an amazing to have the opportunity to walk through these halls and be able to admire the vivid colors of El Greco’s works and to stare back into the eyes of the Velazquez in his masterpiece, Las Meninas. This trip was only possible through the help of the Givens Scholarship, and I am so very grateful to the Givens family for providing me and several of my fellow Wabash students the opportunity to engage in culture and art in such an intimate way. It was an trip that shaped my study abroad experience and one that I will not soon forget.