Graduate Student Experience, 2016


Ariel Miles
Graduate Student - Creative Arts Therapy
Pratt in Venice 2016

After graduating from Pratt’s Creative Arts Therapy program, I was thrilled for the opportunity to immerse myself in art-making, history, and culture in Venice, Italy. I could have guessed that my experience would be a nurturing and amazing one from the moment of arrival. I’m constantly gushing about the warmth of Italian locals and their desire to keep others well fed. I doubt that my experience would have been the same without the classes I was enrolled in. The Art History, Materials and Techniques, Painting, and Italian language courses heightened my knowledge of Venice and my experience in the city.

Venice feels like a perfect city for creative people of all kinds. The program similarly compliments the diversity of the students/artists who participate. While I studied art therapy, my peers were painters, sculptors, interior designers, etc. In Art History, we visited sites such as churches, mansions, villas, and bridges that Italian artists and architects had a hand in building in Venice and neighboring cities. The Materials and Techniques course allowed me and my peers behind the scenes where we saw, first-hand, men, women, and students at work melting smalti, cutting tesserae, gilding gold, conserving artwork, or creating new frescoes and wood etchings. The experiences were rewarding because it’s difficult to find information about many of these traditional processes. It was also interesting to be an artist learning the meaning and metaphor behind creative and architectural decisions people have made in Venice. If that’s not enough, one literally feels like a VIP with access to space and information no one else is allowed. I actually brag about my library card and about the beauty of the library, the Universita Internazionale dell’Arte, and the staff at both.

The city continues to inspire artists in much the same way my classmates and I were drawn to it.  While my brief descriptions hardly do the experience any justice, I felt the same of the pictures I took throughout the trip. There truly is no such thing as a bad picture in Venice but nothing beats seeing the sites (and even the graffiti) for yourself. There is also no such thing as a bad time painting along the canal. Both local adult and children occasionally stop by to see what each artist is painting. At some point local men and women opening their windows or setting their laundry on lines from their balconies would greet me as I became a familiar face, painting an image of their homes, most mornings. That only heightened my desire to learn Italian language. The more I learned the language and history of the city, the more immersed I felt. It also helped that the boss and staff at a trattoria near my apartment often treated me to food and wine as I ate there regularly.

Each student apartment had a personality and I loved that mine was in a location convenient enough for me to catch a boat 30 minutes before class, shop, eat, or walk to hang out with locals and other students at night. Though some days required early mornings, un brioche e café and a commute along the water, sleepily daydreaming into the waves hitting the vaporetto, is a great way to start a day.