When you think of art, what comes to mind? Ancient sculptures of idealized figures like Michelangelo’s David? Painted frescoes by Raphael? Contemporary paintings of bold colors and outlines like those of Mondrian? These are all works of art that can be found in Italy, and I knew I had to go there. I am a painting graduate student, and prior to my trip I felt there was something missing in my studio practice. I had only ever seen certain important works of art through textbooks. While this was on one level helpful to get an idea of paintings I was studying, it was only that—an idea. I had only abstract notions of scale and technique, and color was crippled using printers. I knew I wanted to see the originals! I knew you cannot get the full scope of a sculpture until you are able to walk around it, you cannot see the brush strokes of a Caravaggio on a laptop, and you do not get the spiritual presence of looking up at the Sistine Chapel with a hundred other enthralled people unless you are there.

My trip to Italy with the Study Abroad program at University of Alabama has changed so much for me: the way I think about art in historical context, my studio techniques and practices, and my understanding of how art in general affects people and culture. I have so much to think about and parse out from my trip to Italy, and I know that the experiences I had and the people I met while on the trip have left me a better artist.