This past fall I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain with the UVA in Valencia program. The experience I had abroad was amazing and unforgettable. While in Valencia, I took a class called ‘Introduction to Spanish Art’ and my intention with the class was to learn about four different 20th-century Spanish artists: Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Juan Miró, and Antoni Gaudi. Out of the artists I studied, Picasso and Gaudi were my favorites by far, and I ended up focusing on their art in the places I visited. I was able to study the art in person and foster a great interest and love for it with support from the Givens Scholarship. The purpose of the Givens Scholarship, established by Mr. and Mrs. David W. Givens ’56, is to enrich Wabash students’ experience in the arts by funding travel to see art in situ. My experience was, without a doubt, enriched. Since I knew I could go and see the art, I really pursued the topic and gained an appreciation of its beauty and complexity.
The art of Pablo Picasso is very prevalent throughout Spain and France. To study his art, I visited Madrid, Malaga, and Paris. In class learned that he was a superstitious man and believed in voodooism. Out of this belief, he never threw away his toenail clippings or hair clippings. Oddly enough, through the help of the Given’s award, I was able to see said clippings in the Mussée Picasso in Paris, France. Something more famous that I was able to see in person was Picasso’s famous painting: ‘Guernica,’ in the Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain. When talking with professors about what art I should see, this one was high on the list. It is so massive, taking up almost all of the wall, and it portrays strong emotions of confusion and chaos that came with the bombings of Guernica. Lastly, I was able to go to Malaga, the city where Picasso was born. I was able to appreciate where his roots are from and see his legacy continued through the Museo Picasso Málaga that’s there. Overall, I was able to see a wide variety of Picasso’s art styles including surrealism, cubism, and his blue period. Even though a lot of his art looks crazy, seeing it was a fun way to get a glimpse into the mind of this genius.
As for Antoni Gaudi, his art is all over Barcelona in the form of architecture. While in Barcelona for a weekend, I was able to see the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güel. The Sagrada Familia was the coolest to see, even though it was still under construction, because of its grandness and the intricacy of its details. In it, I was able to observe how Gaudi’s art takes inspiration from nature and how it intersects with the Christian message that is expertly portrayed on the facades of the basilica. The inside was just as spectacular with large columns that give it the feel of a forest and stain-glass windows that cast colorful shadows on the floor. It is quite a sight to see. Parc Güel was just as beautiful, immersive, and full of funky architecture. It is like stepping into a fairy tale. One of the most captivating things there, other than the marvelous sights of Barcelona, was the brightly colored mosaics, The colors and El Drac, the famed mosaic lizard, gave the park such an inviting atmosphere and made me want to stay indefinitely. Overall, Gaudi’s art is quite unique and was definitely worth the trip to Barcelona.
Overall, I am very thankful for the support of the Givens family. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to travel as much and see art in situ nor would I have gained an appreciation and interest in art. This experience has been life changing. It’s not just because I got to see art, but instead, because I got to go to new places, experience new things, step out of my comfort zone, and make some amazing memories. I have grown as a student and as a person. May future Givens Scholarship recipients have their study abroad experience in Europe enriched as I did.