Knox in New York: Art Class Goes to NYC, Expands Possibilities

Trip helps students 'put into context how artists engage in society'

January 20, 2012

Knox in New York Art Class in New York City

Editor's Note: Kelly Eigenberger (inset photo above), a junior from Broomfield, Colorado, participated in the Knox in New York program during Knox College's 2011 fall term. She is an art history major.

By Kelly Eigenberger ‘13

Eleven Knox College students traveled to the Big Apple over winter break for a face-to-face experience with the art that has shaped our nation.

Knox in New York, a Department of Art and Art History course taught by Associate Professors of Art Tony Gant and Lynette Lombard, combines an art history course and studio work with a two-week travel component to New York City.

"When thinking about art and cities, New York is where art and culture are part of daily life," Lombard explained. "Knox in New York students are exposed to different communities of artists and to a variety of art forms. This experience is transformative; it expands the possibilities of how students see themselves as practicing artists in the future."

Knox in New York Art Class in New York City: Gabe MorenoDuring the term, we were each provided a studio space and broad assignments each week in order to experiment and develop our own visual vocabularies. The coursework examined post-war New York City artists and art though modern times, closely examining the Abstract Expressionist period. After the trip, we returned to Knox and our studios to explore aesthetically what we had gained from the experience.

Once we arrived in New York, our class hit the ground running.

The first night, we went to Chelsea to see a magnificent sculptural piece by artist Richard Serra.

We walked the High Line, a repurposed elevated train line converted into a garden walkway above the streets of New York. We quickly learned to navigate New York's underground subway system -- there is nothing in the world quite like the 6 train at rush hour.

We spent hours (yet still never quite saw everything) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). We visited two Knox graduates, Katie Bell ‘08 and Liz Ferry '04, who are living and working as artists in Brooklyn, New York.

Our class took a week of figure-drawing classes at the New York Studio School of Drawing and Painting in the mornings, and we hunted down pieces by our favorite artists in the afternoons.

Students in the Knox in New York program for fall term 2011 were:

Laura Castaños '13, Connor Dillon '14, Kelly Eigenberger '13, Mark Farrell '12, Alyssa Kennamer '14, Claire Turner '12, Gabriel Moreno '14, Katie O'Connor '12, Rebecca Ott '12, Zach Paluch '13, and Biyi Wen '14.

We worked on five to 10 drawings a day, mostly working from a model provided by the Studio School.

We took a trip to Queens to see The Noguchi Museum, founded and designed by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi, which is filled with his life's work. We spent an afternoon in Beacon, New York, at the Dia Foundation's renovated Nabisco factory, filled with room after room of contemporary art by sculptors like Sol Lewitt, John Chamberlain, and Joseph Beuys.

My favorite pieces were in a small gallery, Eykyn Maclean, in an Upper East Side building that would have looked like any apartment to an uninformed passerby.

Knox in New York Art Class in New York City: Claire TurnerThe show, called Matisse and the Model, showcased a collection of drawings by Henri Matisse. The simplicity and elegance of the lines he used to represent the complexities of human features will always fascinate me.

Our trip helped put into context how artists engage in society, and we were able to experience their legacies firsthand, out of the classroom, in the artists' domain. We became students of the city, surrounded by endless examples of ingenious engineering, artworks, and architecture. Building on what we studied earlier at Knox, we held discussions in New York about artists and their work while in the presence of those creations.

We returned to Knox after the trip for a four-day art-making extravaganza, working long hours in the studio and enjoying the quiet that a small town provides.

The sights and sounds of New York City spoke loudly in our work. It was clear we had come back a more cultured and experienced group of artists.

(Photo at top of page: A scenic view of New York City from the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York. Above left: Gabriel Moreno '14 and the Isamu Noguchi sculpture outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At left: Claire Turner '12 with a Sphynx from the Egyptian Art collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below left: Knox College students Alyssa Kennamer '14, Rebecca Ott '12, and Moreno with art of the oceanic peoples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below right: Laura Castaños '13 presents a Mark Rothko painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All photos by Kelly Eigenberger '13.)

Knox in New York Art Class in New York City Knox in New York Art Class in New York City: Laura Castanos