Undergraduate Experience, 2018

Christian Harding


I can promise you that the skills I learned, the people I worked with, and my memories of Venice will influence my work for years to come.
Christian Harding near UIA on Guidecca

Christian Harding near UIA on Guidecca

I participated in the Pratt in Venice trip 2019 and I was immediately enticed by the city. Up until that point, I had never left the United States, rarely leaving the east coast where I call home. Coming out of my freshman year at Pratt, I knew hardly anyone in the program and was quite frankly terrified to be traveling across the world alone. Luckily, I was on a flight with another PiV student, who quickly became a close friend. Upon arriving at the airport in Venice, I decided it would be fun to take the boat to the city, rather than the bus. The bus is cheaper and faster, but the boat was perhaps one of my favorite memories. The city seems so tiny from the surface of the water, as it floats towards you over the horizon with its skyline marked only by the many campaniles and churches, like spikes on a sleeping dragon’s back. From that moment, I was entranced by this place. I could go on about every detail of Venice that I developed a fondness for, and the people I met that made it all the more memorable, but I think it’s a journey one needs to go on themselves to understand. What is important to say, though, is that I made some of my fondest friendships on this trip, in one of the most deeply inspiring cities in the world.

Living in Venice is quite unique, and it’s an experience that I feel few get the chance to do, at least in the way that the program allows. It’s like living in Disney World. There is so much to see and do, and you could spend many more months in Venice than what is allotted by the program, still being engaged and entertained.

In terms of my academic experience, I enjoyed the process of working in Venice. I participated in the Printmaking studio with Andrea Lynn Santos, the Painting studio with Michael Brennan, and Joseph Kopta’s Venetian Art History class, taking a total of 8 credits. The classes are incredibly immersive. Similar to some instances in NYC, the program offers the unique opportunity to visit the works discussed in the art history class in person. As a freshman, I was coming fresh off of Themes of Art and Culture 1 & 2, a class where you get a walkthrough of the most essential works across all of Art History, and I think that through the program and its many trips (including a brief trip to Rome that I made with other students), I was able to see just about every Italian work featured in that class. I also spent some time in the Marciani Library in Piazza San Marco studying for Joe’s final paper, and that too was a unique and intriguing opportunity. I highly recommend going to work in the libraries in Venice, and I do not usually like libraries! The UIA and Scoula Grafica facilities are beautiful, spacious, and thought-provoking, and Massimo and Roberta de Feoli have incredible character.

As a 3D animation major, I wasn’t sure what I could get out of the studio classes and was afraid I would underperform or be an outsider. However, the class structure under Michael and Andrea was loose enough to give me room to push my work where I thought it needed to go, and they let the city, and my ever-changing thoughts about it, mold my work as the program went on. Everyone on the program was experiencing the city at the same time, therefore the studio environment and people’s work stayed fluid and open as we discovered new things, and we all played off of one another. Andrea and Roberta offered many tools to me as a first time printmaker, and I emerged feeling quite adept with some of those skills. Michael Brennan allowed me to take my work where I needed it to go with it, but encouraged me to question my intent and process in an insightful and productive way.

The classes did not apply directly to my field of study, but I can promise you that the skills I learned, the people I worked with, and my memories of Venice will influence my work for years to come.