In Fall 2017 three students were awarded grants from the Sura Wolff Wengrow New York Travel Grant. The grant provides UNC Asheville studio art majors (BA or BFA) $750 each to support a four-day trip to New York for experiences at art museums, galleries, and artists’ studios. The grant is intended to inspire students making plans for the capstone exhibition and prepare them to pursue a career as an artist after graduation. It is expected that the visit would take place over either Fall or Spring Break, whichever follows the semester of student's application’s acceptance. After the students return they present a report of their visit. Tiffany Jones, Caroline Dockery, and Jessi Clodfelter went over Spring 2018 break. They are very grateful to Professor Arnold Wengrow, emeritus professor of drama, for the opportunity to visit New York.
Since returning from my trip to New York, I truly feel my standards for various artistic styles have expanded and my appreciation for new art has grown substantially. The first museum I visited was the Museum of Modern Art. I immediately noticed the pieces by Andy Warhol. Having never seen his work in real life, I was astounded at how large they actually were.
Inside the MoMA there were also a lot of sculptures made from all kinds of materials such as glass, metal, plastic, and so on. I do not have a lot of experience or skill with sculpture, so I find myself especially drawn to them because I am impressed by artists that work in three dimensions. Some of my favorite artists displayed in the MoMA were Georges-Pierre Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso. Having only ever read about these great artists I felt so fortunate to stand in front of their works and appreciate them up close. An artist that I discovered and liked was Giorgio De Chirico. I paint on a realistic level so I was drawn to his well-rendered subject matter that had a twist of a surreal background.
The next museum I visited was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Upon arriving I was immediately shocked by how massive the museum was. The first floor was full of Roman and Greek statues and sculptures. I really enjoyed these because of the Roman art history course that I took here at UNC Asheville.
The upper floors were where all the paintings were held. It was overwhelming as to where to begin and I spent several hours taking in all the great pieces before me. I again discovered three artists that I really enjoyed named Henry Alexander, Stacy Tolman, and Thomas Eakins. The paintings I saw by them were portraits and every inch of the backgrounds were filled with content and detail. This is something I am currently struggling with in my own portrait paintings; therefore, it was great to see how important and how much of an impact the background can have in a painting.
Towards the end of my New York trip, I visited a museum called The Frick. This was my personal favorite experience in New York. Inside was filled with old portrait paintings which are my favorite subject matter to paint at the moment. Some of my favorite artist were Frans Halls, Rembrant van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, and Joseph Mallord William Turner, to name just a few. Walking into each room and first witnessing these large paintings, I was in awe at how impeccable and well rendered they were. When I looked up close at the paintings I noticed how softly things were painted and how simple some brush strokes actually were. This was an eye-opening experience for me because I can become obsessive over details in my paintings, so much so that the painting process feels stressful. Having seen these master paintings, I realized that I can get the effect I want across to the viewer without over-thinking what it is that I am painting. I owe the experience of The Frick to my painting instructor Suzanne Dittenber for referring me to this memorable museum.
I also visited the Pace Gallery which showcases various prints. This was suggested to me by my printmaking instructor, Robert Dunning. Along with painting, I have a great interest in printmaking and I'm currently enrolled in the third level of the course. It was neat to see so many different kinds of prints such as reduction prints, etchings and so on. One that caught my eye in particular was a piece by Ryan McGinness and was made mainly of woven silk. The ornate designs along with unique lavender color scheme was very intriguing to me. Painting and printmaking are very compatable mediums so I really enjoyed visiting this gallery.
Overall, I am so very appreciative for being able to have had this experience and opportunity to visit such wonderful museums. I learned that all different kinds of art can have a voice in this world and can impact everyone differently and that is what is so exciting. Most importantly I gained great insight into how I can further push the boundaries of my portrait paintings to enhance the experience for the viewer and connect them to my work.
(Tiffany Jones, April 20, 2018)