Art Trip to NYC

by: Izzy Burkhardt

SIU art students taking a selfie in NYC.
SIU art students in New York City.

I have dreamt of seeing works from my favorite artists such as Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimt, and Vincent Van Gogh for many years. When given the opportunity to visit New York City with SIU’s Art History Department, I felt like my dreams were closer to reality. Every year at the beginning of the spring semester the Art History Department puts out an application for the possibility to get chosen for the New York trip. The application includes writing an essay saying how the trip would benefit you and attaching which art history classes you have taken, but you are not required to be an art student to go on the trip. My friend is a business major and they got chosen to go on the trip!

The day I received the email telling me that I was chosen to go on the trip, I was nearly exploding with joy. Having the opportunity to go to New York City and have my airfare, hotel, and admission to museums covered was exciting. The multi-month wait ate at me as my excitement boiled over. 

Students at the airport
At the St. Louis airport, heading to New York.

On Saturday, March 9th, the day finally came, and we departed from Carbondale to St. Louis airport to New York City. After arriving to our hotel, my friends and I decided to go sightseeing. We harnessed the beast that is New York’s Subway system to see the Empire State Building and visit a museum. The Subway stations were decorated with beautiful mosaics that us art students admired at each stop. New York greeted us with rain, and many of us were ill-equipped to take on the down pour. Even though we were all completely drenched, we made the best of it and had a great first night exploring the Big Apple. 

The next morning was a “free day” on our trip, and my friend and I decided to visit The Guggenheim. This building that was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright hosts a collection of art by widely recognizable artists such as Manet or Van Gogh. This museum curated an exhibit called “Going Dark: the Contemporary Figure at the Edge of Visibility”. Going Dark explores the desire to be seen and the desire to be hidden by sight. I got to see artists like Kerry James Marshall who paints with different shades of black. That night we went to Times Square and got all of our cheesy souvenirs. On our way back, we ran into actor, screenwriter, and director Bennie Safdie!

students touring The Met
Students touring The Met.

Monday, we visited The Met and went on a tour that discussed the thought process for creating the museum and curating works within. Seeing works that we have analyzed in class such as The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur and getting to finally understand how large these paintings are was fascinating. I had no idea that this painting was so large that it took up nearly an entire wall. We then went to the Neue Gallery which hosts many works by Gustav Klimt, who I had learned about in my Survey of 20th Century Art course. 

Tuesday we visited MoMA, which was the museum I was most excited to visit. I was again surprised by the size of some of the artworks I was familiar with. The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali is so small! After viewing all the contemporary art in the museum we decided to wait in line to see Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I got so excited when I saw it that I started crying, and I didn’t stop for about thirty minutes. I felt like such a nerd, but seeing the piece of art that everyone has on their phone cases, shirts, and socks in person was so cool. 

Izzy observing a Van Gogh painting.
Izzy observing a Van Gogh painting.

On our final day in New York we traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art. We saw this huge sculpture-like painting by Jay DeFeo that weighs almost a ton and is entirely made out of oil paint that was applied in layers then chiseled away. Most of us assumed that it was made out of concrete before our tour guide explained DeFeo’s process. Since we were so close to the 9/11 memorial, we took the Subway there before going to get food in China Town. We went to Joe’s Ginger and got really delicious dumplings and then got boba tea at a store next to it. That night we all decided that we needed to have a second dinner to get one last slice of pizza before going home. 

The morning we left I made sure to go to Levain bakery to get some cookies to bring back for my mom. I was sad to leave New York City, and I hope I get to revisit it soon!

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