Slide background

Study Abroad "Walks" Students Through Art History

by Web on July 25, 2017

The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral are among Parisian landmarks that served as classrooms for a group of Millsaps College students earlier this summer.

Kristen Tordella-Williams, assistant professor of art at Millsaps, led five students earlier this summer on a study abroad trip that was an observational drawing extravaganza. Three students were enrolled in Intermediate Drawing and two in Beginning Drawing.

Students in Paris“The students took an immersive French class at France Langue, a French language institute located just across the Seine from Notre Dame,” she said. “They lived for the month with host families across Paris. In the afternoon, we visited many different museums, landmarks, cultural sites, and other areas in and around Paris and studied drawing. We would go visit a museum and draw sculpture or go to a park and practice different observational drawing techniques.”

Tordella-Williams said she structured the month so that the students’ experience would be like walking through art history, beginning with the Louvre and ending with contemporary museums like the Centre Pompidou and the Louis Vuitton Foundation.

“This was not necessarily an art history trip, although students had to write several short visual analyses of the work we viewed,” she said. “There was a good balance of looking at art and practicing the art of drawing.”

A highlight was sharing the experience of visiting iconic museums with students and taking the time in the institutions to study sculpture through observational drawing, Tordella-Williams said.

“A different kind of looking happens when you are drawing from observation and it is allows for deeper contemplation of sculpture rather than spending five seconds and then clicking a photo or selfie for social media,” she said. “Because the program had five students, I also had a little time to do some of my own drawings, which was really fun and allowed students a window into my drawing process as well.”