A Museum Mile marathon
Deep into Drawing Workshop and 20th Century Art History classes last spring, Victoria Pimental felt as if she had fallen into an artistic slump.
The junior from Lehigh Acres ached for inspiration and for a chance to broaden her experience of art beyond the textbook and the classroom. At 20, she’d never visited a major museum and couldn’t afford to take time or money away from school to travel.
Thanks to the generosity of an FGCU benefactor, however, Pimental was able to spend a week gallery hopping through the most storied cultural institutions of New York City – the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and others. She and seven other art majors were chosen to take part in the all-expenses-paid trip to enrich their artistic and historical perspectives and to inspire their work.
Standing in front of original masterpieces they’d only seen in books was a revelation.
“It was sensory overload in the best of ways,” Pimental says of the New York City marathon. “The experience really influenced the way I think about my future and rekindled some old desires for myself that I let slip away. I really wanted to just start creating as soon as I got home.”
And she did. The students were required to produce artwork inspired by their week in Gotham. Their drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and journals were featured in an ArtLab exhibit soon after they returned.
“Their work is changing in ways that wouldn’t necessarily have changed without this opportunity,” says Anica Sturdivant, interim art gallery director. “These students have been inspired.”
Seeing how deeply they were affected by their spring break trip proved gratifying for Raymond Vitelli of Naples, who donated $20,000 to fund the excursion.
“To be able to provide a valuable life experience for these young people is so rewarding,” Vitelli says. “Seeing their artwork – that was a treat for me.”
Kelly Campbell, a junior from Bonita Springs, cut out clay replicas of the spiraling Guggenheim and other landmarks, fired them in a kiln and attached them to a rusty steel saw blade that she nailed like a curled ribbon to a halfburned 8-foot tree trunk. Sitting atop the rustic column: a ceramic female figure peering over the edge, representing the artist observing the city.
“I spent a lot of time looking up at buildings as well as down from the top of them,” Campbell explains. “The amount of places and things that I was exposed to really added to my ability to interpret works of many artists and see what artists on the front line are creating and saying.”
She hopes someday to help provide a similar opportunity for another student.