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Teaching and Learning Art in Montepulciano, Italy

By Lauren Highfill

 

Joe Remillard

Students sketching in alleyway in Montepulciano

Students drawing in Montepulciano meadow

Assistant Professor of Art Joe Remillard says it’s one thing to discuss Michelangelo’s David with a flat, lifeless image projected at the front of the classroom. It’s quite another to see the gargantuan 17-foot tall statue in its home in Florence.

“This effect is impossible to duplicate in a classroom,” Remillard says. As part of Kennesaw State University’s Get Global program, Remillard taught two classes in Montepulciano, Italy this summer. This year was Remillard’s eighth year participating in a study abroad program and his third summer in Montepulciano.

As is apparent by his many years of teaching abroad, Remillard believes studying in other countries should be part of students’ curriculum. “Studying abroad gives students a world view and is important for every student, regardless of their discipline,” he says. 

Ryan Considine, a junior graphic design major at KSU, studied with Remillard this summer and mirrors his sentiment about the importance of studying abroad. “It gives you the opportunity to experience the world,” Considine says. “Studying abroad is about experiencing firsthand the country, the culture, the art and the life,” he continues. “Not many people can say they studied the techniques of art in Italy—let alone drew the sights.”

Marcy Starz, a junior visual arts major concentrating in drawing and painting, is another student who studied with Remillard in Italy this summer. Starz says, "Studying abroad gives you a new perspective and feeds your artistic drive." For Starz and other students studying abroad, the program is more than a summer vacation. The usual, everyday distractions are gone and students can focus on their course of study. "I didn't have a single excuse not to draw and I had plenty of opportunity to do it," Starz says.

As a teacher of art abroad, Remillard says his teaching experiences in other countries and at KSU influence each other. “I incorporate museum experiences into my teaching at KSU and, of course, I take my experiences in the classroom at KSU abroad.”

From his experiences in Italy, Considine says he learned that “what you think you know, you don’t. You don’t know until you experience it for yourself.” A message that rings true for both personal and academic endeavors.

 

Remillard is in the process of working with other faculty members to create an expanded study abroad program.

 

 

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The College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University supports, defends and promotes academic freedom in artistic expression, as outlined by the American Association of University Professors, and diversity of all kinds as outlined by the university's Human Relations Position Statement.

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