Spartans Spend Spring Break Perusing Art, Design in NYC

Published: Mar 12, 2014
UT students started spring break in New York City as part of ART 292: Art Immersion, a travel course that combines studio art and art history. Photo by Matthew Maharaj ’14
UT students started spring break in New York City as part of ART 292: Art Immersion, a travel course that combines studio art and art history. Photo by Matthew Maharaj ’14
While talking with professional graphic designers on a visit over spring break, Emma Lettera ’15 found that when starting out, the majority had just picked up and moved to New York City as graduates, coming to the city to find their opportunities. This was a sentiment she found both reassuring and terrifying.

“It’s definitely a combination of exciting and scary and something I totally want to do,” said Lettera, a graphic design major, who is pursuing more internships now as a result of the inspiration. “I’m just used to having a plan, but sometimes you have to jump first and look later.”

Lettera was one of about two dozen students who spent March 4–9 in New York City as part of ART 292: Art Immersion, a travel course that combines studio art and art history learned first in the classroom and then on site, in galleries, museums and the working studios of prominent artists.

“It’s really about seeing the real-world application of what the students are studying,” said Associate Professor Chris Valle, who is leading this trip for the sixth year, but the first with a graphic design track.

Those on the art track visited the New York Academy of Art, led on a tour by three UT alumni currently doing graduate work there; attended several of the six art shows held in the city that week; lingered in the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art and wandered through West Chelsea art galleries.

Both tracks included plenty of studio visits, such as a talk with Milton Glaser, most known for creating the “I Heart NY” logo.

“As one of the founding fathers of American graphic design, having the chance to sit down and have conversations with this man was a dream come true,” said Assistant Professor Brooke Scherer, who organized the graphic design track of the trip. Her own excitement for some of the stops was topped only by the passion she could see being fired in her students’ eyes.

“To hear and see the students’ reactions were priceless,” Scherer said. “This trip turned out to be more than I had ever hoped for, and I'm lucky to be able to pass these experiences along to future practitioners.”

Each year Valle said he notices a remarkably measurable difference in the students before and after the trip, where their attitudes and work ethic seem ignited and reaffirmed by getting a taste of life after graduation.

“There is a level of excitement that you can’t get any other way than by experiencing the art scene,” he said.

As a sophomore in college Valle went on a similar trip without much knowledge of the art world.

“It really opened my eyes, and I want to give that back to our students.”