Artistry Abroad

By Elaina Loveland on March 17, 2013

Creative expression crosses boundaries.
And students pursuing artistic degree
programs can develop themselves as
artists by learning from other cultures.
Immersion in the artistic environments
of cities like Paris and Florence can provide students with an opportunity to
realize their creative potential.
Jeremiah Albrecht, a furniture design
major at the Minneapolis College of Art
and Design, spent a semester abroad in
Florence, Italy, to do an independent
senior project studying furniture design
and marble sculpture.
“My experience in Florence was lifechanging,” Jeremiah recalls. “I was engulfed by thousands of years of art history. Art and design was everywhere.
During the day you could walk down
any street and see something from your
art history book.”
Not only did the accessibility of
viewing famous works of art leave an impression on Jeremiah, but being on his
own gave him a new sense of personal
responsibility that positively influenced
his learning experience.
“This freedom actually made me work
harder then I would have in the States.
When you are in a strange environment
and become overwhelmed, you tend to
focus on the task at hand,” he says.
Admittedly, “the language barrier
was tough at first” for Jeremiah, but
many students spoke English. “My two
professors didn’t speak any English so
I sketched and drew my way through,”
Jeremiah says. “It made my drawing and
problem-solving skills improve dramatically and reaffirmed to me that art is a
universal language.”
Carolina Spielmann was studying
graphic design at the Universidad de
Buenos Aires and decided she should
take a year to study abroad. Originally,
she was intending to attend Parsons
University in New York City until she
discovered that the institution had a
branch campus in Paris, where she went
“At Parsons Paris, I discovered a multicultural and international environment
that conquered me, but also I was able
to do what I always wanted to do: be a
painter,” Carolina says. “In Argentina, it
is not easy to became a painter and creative activities are less respected than in
France. And being in Paris was stimulating, not only because of the exhibitions
and museum, but also because I could
see that I had a chance of becoming a
professional artist.”
What was intended to be a one-year
study abroad experience became much
more. Carolina decided to stay and finish her degree in Paris rather than return
to Argentina. Before graduating, she was
already selling her paintings at the Toast
Gallery, which enabled her to do other
artistic projects with sponsorships from
Heineken and Habitat for Humanity. She
has since become a professional artist
doing projects in stage design, book illustrations, and furniture design.
The experience of studying art abroad
allows students to broaden their horizons in terms of knowledge of art and
culture in societies unlike their own as
well as help them further develop their
artistic skills to reach their potential and
start careers after their college graduation.
“It’s amazing how some countries can
appreciate art more than others,” Jeremiah says. “We [the United States] have
such a young history of art compared
to northern Europe. They seem to place
more value on teaching arts to their students. The design course I had taken had
students significantly younger and more
technically skilled than the students in
the United States.”
Today, Jeremiah is an interior designer working at Worrell, a product
development firm providing customer
research and product definition, industrial design, engineering, user interface
design, and branding in Minneapolis.
“Since coming back I’ve attributed much of my artistic growth to the
study abroad program. My ideation
and conceptualizing skills significantly
improved,” Jeremiah says. “More importantly, I have learned how to adapt
in new environments and use them as