Big City, Big Dreams: Art students’ annual trip to New York City
For many artists, New York City is where the “big things” happen. Denison senior studio art majors got to experience this firsthand, exploring the city and its attractions, as well as enjoying time with artists in their studios.
Each year, the senior studio art cohort takes a weekend trip to New York City, each trip being unique through the guidance of their professor. This trip is designed to allow Denison students to have a glimpse into the artistic hub and way of life of artists living and working in NYC, as well as to strengthen the cohort’s connections with each other.
The trip is also meant to inspire them in their future art, guided by the artists and works they encounter throughout the city. This is a “reinvigoration” process for these students, allowing them to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city to spark an explorative interest. This year’s group explored Chelsea, SoHo, Brooklyn, and more, visiting the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the studios of Esteban del Valle and Stefan Gunn, two NYC-based artists.
Keith Spencer, associate professor of studio art and environmental studies, led the group through the city. With an MFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design, Spencer looks for inspiration and opportunity wherever he can, and leads his students to these opportunities as well.
“This kind of trip reinvigorates an artist’s studio practice,” Spencer said. “Creativity does not solely live in the exhibition spaces; it is spilling out into the neighborhood sidewalks, walls, rooftops, and the people passing by. It is difficult to not be seduced by that creative energy.”
NYC provides many incredible opportunities as the largest artistic hub in the US. Lexi Hall ‘23, a studio art and communications/creative writing double minor, experienced art by one of her biggest inspirations, artist Jordan Casteel.
“To see Jordan’s huge figurative oil paintings with vibrant underpaint and emotional expression was extremely inspiring to me as a painter,” Hall said.
Ellie Schrader ‘23, BFA, enjoyed a visit to the High Line in Chelsea. “I couldn’t stop thinking about how differently nature can present itself in major cities like New York,” Schrader said, “and the surprising locations in which it might appear.”
The visit offered her clarity about her own art, interests, and future careers. Meeting Denison studio art alumni, she felt more connected to the artistic world as a whole.
Seniors gained inspiration and connections and understanding of the New York art world. At the end of the day, Spencer enjoyed the trip just as much as his students.
“Going on these sort of trips is motivation to keep creating,” said Spencer. “It reaffirms my desire to be part of an art conversation, to contribute to it, and be an active participant.”