Traveling is an life changing experience that many artists have shared. One of my favorite painters, John Singer Sargent even visited Venice and created some of his most recognizable watercolor sketches there. The idea of travel is often idealized and romanticized by artists and non-artists alike, which often gets in the way of authentic cultural experience. Still, traveling to new places (or even seeking the unknown aspects of familiar places) offers an encounter with the world that reinforces an encounter with one's own real self. These encounters are not idealized or naively romanticized. They are real. I am thankful that my advisor at Furman (Bob Chance) encouraged me to go on my first trip abroad (a semester abroad in Cortona, Italy). I was terrified! I would have never thought that i would be changed so much by that experience. It changed the trajectory of my life and my career. It's not that traveling abroad changed me as much as it helped me to realize who I have been all along. . . and who I wanted to become.
I am excited to observe my students have such encounters. I, of course, cannot wait to be impacted by my own experiences traveling with them. Every time I go somewhere new, I discover something new about myself. I am inspired as an artist and as a human.
Last night, we had a pre-trip meeting. Dr. Tom Pitts began our meeting with a series of quotes about travel. These quotes resonated tremendously with me:
"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted." -- Bill Bryson
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
“Using words to describe magic is like using a screwdriver to cut roast beef.”
― Tom Robbins
Artists and Travel: John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925)