Graduate Student Experience, 2017


Nick LaPole
Graduate Student - Printmaking
Pratt in Venice 2017

Pratt in Venice proved to be a refreshing experience that kept me engaged with Venetian culture and with my own art practice. The trips and tours are stripped of the fluff and filled to the brim with interesting insights. There is so much to see; the canals, the streets, the churches and the surrounding countryside all provided a stunning view and a moment of pause. 

That pause is brief, though, because there was plenty of work to do! Libraries in Venice are filled with materials and have a history all their own (I wish I spent more time there, myself). The painting studios at UIA have an excellent sea-side view, which gave light and air an opportunity to flood into the classrooms. The library of artist books reserved for Pratt and the espresso machine nearby made each painting session a relaxing experience. The Scuola di Grafica print-shop was organized quite differently; equipped with a variety of press-beds and facilitating many students/artist-in-residence at a time, the entire space felt perfectly constructed for a great workflow. I particularly enjoyed the printing atmosphere, because it was such a collaborative experience that was run by truly amazing individuals. Roberta is a great print-maker, and I'm glad I got to meet and work with her!

The art, of course, was important and exhilarating to see in person. Fresco murals; Master paintings in situ or in a museum; I was introduced to several Venetian painters while here (Tintoretto was a particular favorite). All of this is done so with context, thankfully. I definitely appreciated this context when addressed alongside the contemporary scene. We were fortunate enough to see the Venice Biennial and all the pomp and circumstance that followed it. Aside from this, there were various exhibitions that blew me away (The Boat is Sinking, The Captain Lied and Phillip Guston and the Poets both stand out to me). Experiencing the mix of styles, influences, and ages made each one resonate more fully. The work engaged each other just as we, the viewers, engaged the work. This, I think, is especially important moving forward into the future.

The little moments and the small conversations were perhaps the most enjoyable thing about the trip. Eating and drinking with your peers, responding to the things you see and retelling stories you experienced personally; every moment was punctuated by exhaustion and wonder in equal measure! It's a busy experience, to be sure, but it is one that cleared my head and kept me moving.