Sam Henthorn ’20 — Classical Art

Sam Henthorn ’20

Sam Henthorn ’20 — While I was living in Rome this past semester, I had the extraordinary opportunity to visit a multitude of museums showcasing classical art. I was enrolled in an early Christian art class which focused on the emergence of the budding religion through visual representation.

In the classroom, the idea of a marble sculpture or a terracotta pot decorated with mythical scenes lacks a certain flash. The idea of sculpture may seem impressive in the theoretical, but to see an ancient masterpiece such as The Boxer at Restin person creates a completely new sense of awe.

Throughout my travels this past semester, I was fortunate enough to visit the Pergamum, Nives, and Altes Museums in Berlin, Germany along with the Vatican and British Museums. Between the five of these collections is a significant piece of all of the extant classical works open to the public, and perhaps the closest look into what life in eras past may have been like.

As I began to see pieces that I recognized (such as the Market Gates of Miletus), I was not only surprised by the monuments/sculptures themselves but also by my reaction. I always knew that these people, emperors, and palaces existed through writings and pictures, but looking at the same artwork that so many ancient peoples saw created a connection between me and them that text alone was not able to spark.

Because of this opportunity that the Givens family provided me, I was able to observe the progression from Classical Greek artwork all the way to the later Imperial period, which has only supplemented my education in a way that Wabash alone would never have been able to.

Nathan Gray ’20 — Art and Democracy through Public Architecture

City of Arts & Science – Valencia

Nathan Gray ’20 — When I walked into my host mother’s apartment in Seville, I was surprised by how very modern it was. Seville is a traditional city in the south of Spain, full of centuries old buildings and only one, very controversial skyscraper. My confusion turned to excitement when I learned that she had chosen the modern apartment because she is an architect. As an architect, she would help me explore a topic that I had been curious about for months: how cultural discussions about art and democracy become recorded in public architecture.

I’ve been chewing on this question since I visited the many courts of London during an immersion trip for Professors Himsel and Morillo’s History of the Common Law course. During a tour of the recently constructed building for the UK’s Supreme Court, the guide pointed out that every detail of the building’s construction was built to reinforce the idea of total equality before the law. For example, in the Supreme Court, the judges sat at the same level as the petitioner in contrast to the lofty placement of the bench in the older Royal Court of Justice. I began to wonder about how public and government architectural spaces make symbolic statements about how a nation views democracy, the state, and their past and how those views are perceived through design.

In addition to my host mother’s architectural expertise, my class on the History of Seville through Art provided me all the intellectual tools and practice for understanding how a political and cultural community shapes and redefines its narrative through its public spaces and how that changes over time. Thanks to the generous support of the Givens Scholarship, I now had the resources to explore how other parts of Europe answered this question.

During my time in Europe, I was fortunate enough to see how various parts of Spain, the UK, France, and Italy have formed and reformed their public spaces. However, by far, the most apparent and striking example of this process could be seen in Berlin. Germany, more than perhaps any other country in Europe, has been forced to struggle with the relationship between the public, the state, and its painful past. The modern Reichstag building and the surrounding area are a testament to this reckoning.

Modern Reichstag

The modern Reichstag building was designed by Norman Foster and sits within the restored neo-classical edifice of the building used to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire in 1894. After a bad fire in 1933, it remained unused until after the reunification of Germany in 1990. As part of its restoration, Foster topped the building with a large glass dome with a gallery that allows the public to observe the representatives in the debating chamber. Foster wanted this to represent the primacy of the people over their political representatives in a democracy.

Looking out onto the city from the dome, one cannot avoid the reminders of Germany’s past. Within blocks of the Reichstag stands the imperialist Brandenburg Gate as well as the somber Memorials to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Sinti and Roma, and the Homosexuals killed and persecuted during the Nazi regime. The almost exclusively modern architecture of Berlin speaks to the degree of its destruction and fragments of the Berlin Wall and preserved ruins remain like painful scars across the city. Significantly, even as Berlin has been rebuilt and unified over the last century, the public spaces of the German capital mirror the culture of remembrance held by the nation.

Exploring these sites and cities struck me in a profound way. It brought to life ideas and past lessons in history, political science, deliberation and even chemistry. Without the support of the Givens family and Wabash, none of this would have been possible, and I am deeply grateful for all the incredible opportunities they made available to me.

Benjamin Mossoney ’20 — Picasso’s Social Criticism

Benjamin Mossoney with Nathan Young at the Van Gogh Museum

Benjamin Mossoney ’20 — I took a Pablo Picasso class while abroad in Valencia, concentrating on his pioneering of several styles and social commentary. The Givens scholarship enabled me to travel to several cities to experience Picasso’s work directly, and also some work that had a substantial influence on Picasso.

Vincent Van Gogh had a lasting influence on Picasso, which led me to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I spent nearly three and a half incredible hours wandering the Van Gogh Museum. The week before I went to Amsterdam, our Professor gave a lecture on Vincent Van Gogh, noting his unique use of colors and perspectives that influenced many works of Picasso.

The Musée National Picasso-Paris has one of the largest Picasso collections in the world. While visiting this Museum in Paris, I followed Cubist works of Picasso, and also several other artists. The Centre Pompidou also had an extensive collection of Cubist paintings.

I visited the Reina Sofia while in Madrid, and this is where I was able to observe the breathtaking “Guernica” which depicts the town of Guernica being bombed by the Nazi party during the Spanish civil war. I spent nearly an hour analyzing and taking in this miraculous painting. Noting specific areas of Picasso’s techniques and how they blended into his social criticism was an incredible thing to be able to do, and I will never be able to replicate that experience in my life.

I took a Holocaust class my Sophomore year at Wabash, co-taught by German Professor Tucker and Political Science Professor Hollander. While Picasso had much to say concerning the Nazi party and the second great war, I was able to see some hugely influential memorials while I visited Berlin. I went to the Jewish Museum and also the memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. I deeply pondered the significance behind these memorials and also how Germany handled commemorating their misdoings from the Holocaust. Underneath the monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an entire museum that has thousands of stories of Jewish families. Berlin was one of my last trips, and seeing the memorials that we discussed in my Holocaust class was one of my favorite things that I did in Europe.

I want to thank the Givens family for their profound generosity. Their selflessness empowers Wabash men to experience things that they have directly learned about in the classroom and transition them to the real world. Without the Givens scholarship, I would not have been able to go to many of these sites nor gained the appreciation and knowledge I now have for Pablo Picasso, and his social criticism.

James Anthony Williams ’20 — Gloucester and Brentford

James Anthony Williams ’20 —  From drawing with a fine tip of gold or silver to drawing with ink on a Bamboo pencil, my experiences abroad expanded my knowledge and confidence in Art. I never envisioned myself being an artist but with the overwhelming existences of art in the United Kingdom, I easily found a great appreciation for Art and the representational meaning being it. When I wasn’t seeing and embracing art from streets, museums, or vintage Cathedrals or castles, I would surely be making art in my rigorous, yet interesting art course at Harlaxton College. We made metal point drawings, pastel portraits, and studied and practiced many other art forms. My favorite and most interesting art that we studied would have to be our graphite drawing of our actual eye. Though it is one of our simpler drawings, it challenged me to be critical and observant of minor detail to help the overall drawing.

Anthony Williams at Lincoln Cathedral

When traveling and experiencing art outside of class and at Harlaxton Manor, my favorite places that really impacted me were the Museum of Self-Playing Instruments in Brentford, United Kingdom and Lincoln Castle/Cathedral in Lincoln, United Kingdom. At the museum, I was astonished with the work, sounds and sight of these self-playing instruments. Beautiful in every way, these instruments took many months for these instruments to be made and many people from different trade working together to make them a true reality. Massive, breath-taking and meticulously made, Lincoln Cathedral and castle were a gem to see as they have stood strong and tall for decades. The sight inside of the cathedral is only compared to that of Canterbury Cathedral, which is one of the most prestigious buildings in the United Kingdom. Trimmed with the finest metals and marbles, Lincoln Castle and Cathedral was an honor to see touch and appreciate. After studying aboard, I have honestly gained a great respect and appreciation for Art as it tells an underlying story, touches each person differently and gives us the freedom to appreciate its message to us.

Again, I would like to thank the Givens family, scholarship committee, Amy Weir and Wabash College for their everlasting commitment to engage, support and sponsor Wabash Men. It is because of experiences and opportunities such as these that I chose Wabash and I am forever grateful for my decision to be a part of this honorable place we all call home.

Nathan Young ’20 — Spanish Art Throughout Europe

Nathan Young ’20 — Standing and admiring famous art throughout Europe is something that I never thought would be possible before I received the Givens Scholarship. After receiving the scholarship, I thought of the many possibilities of museums and artwork that I could visit. However, I did not realize it until I stood in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. There I saw the man who influenced many important 18th and 19th century Spanish artists. This opened my eyes to the world of art. Before Europe, I had hardly blinked an eye at art’s importance to a country’s history and now I had the opportunity to witness the “writing” and changes of the Spanish society in that era.

Nathan Young with Benjamin Mossoney at Museo Del Prado

I embarked on a trip to Madrid, the center of Spanish art. While there, I witnessed the works of many of the masterpieces of Spanish art including works by Goya, Velazquez, and Ribera. My personal favorite were the works of Goya which I had particular interest in from my work researching his use of women in a paper in Spanish 301. Upon seeing these works it brought together the amazing realization that I am seeing in person the works I had written and observed so much during my studies at Wabash. It changed my perspective on the importance of how art influences people and its immense importance to a country’s culture. For example, seeing the painting of Carlos IV and his family by Goya in the museum drastically changed my perspective of the painting and the importance of the Spanish royal family. The painting’s position in the center of a large room with the clever positioning so that the royal family “looks” over the large hall of the museum is very symbolistic of their role in Spanish society. The nuances of the painting such as the queen standing slightly forward in a position of power is something that I never would have been able to notice without taking an art class through the lens of a Spanish citizen.

I cannot thank enough the Givens family for their generosity provided me and other Wabash men the opportunity to expand beyond our comfort zone. I never would have been able to travel and see the many amazing spectacles of Europe and North Africa. My appreciation of art changed drastically during my time in Europe and I know that art will continue to be a strong interest of mine for the rest of my life. Thank you immensely for this opportunity and I can only hope to pay the same generosity you paid to me unto future Wabash men.