Art, Up Close and Personal

Faculty-led Excursions Offer Students Engaging Arts Experiences

​Providing students with engaging arts experiences—both on and off campus—is an important part of fostering a vibrant arts community at Trinity. Faculty, students, and alumni know well that one of Trinity’s greatest assets is our proximity to tremendous arts resources.

Michael FitzGerald, professor of fine arts, led a recent student trip to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. FitzGerald is an authority on the recent exhibition, Picasso Black and White, which ran from October 5, 2012, through January 23, 2013. As FitzGerald explained in a review he wrote for the Wall Street Journal, the show was the “first major exhibition devoted to Pablo Picasso’s choice of restricted, monochromatic tones in drawing, painting and sculpture...the selection engages a fundamental issue of 20th-century art—the belief that two of the century’s greatest artists, Picasso and Henri Matisse, are defined by their approaches to color.”

Among 35 students touring the Picasso Black and White exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum with Professor of Fine Arts Michael FitzGerald (far right) and Professor Studio Art Joseph Byrne (third from right) were, L-R: Haley Williams ’13, Tara Kantor ’16 and Katherine Crescenzo ’13. (Photo by Isabella Elizalde ’12, Fifth-Year Fellow in Studio Arts)

As they became immersed in Picasso’s work, the Trinity students on the tour learned of some interesting alumni connections. Mary DelMonico ’89 (studio arts major) is publisher of DelMonico Books (an imprint of Prestel Publishing), which published the exhibition catalogue. Lindsay Rabkin ’10, now a graduate student at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, worked on the exhibition last spring as an intern. Also, one of the Picasso works in the exhibition was on loan from a Trinity alumnus and art collector, Aaron Fleischman ’60.

A recent gift to Trinity by Fleischman underwrote the trip the students made to the Guggenheim, as well as other recent trips for students. Mitch Polin, chair of the Department of Theater and Dance, took a group of 18 students to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to see a performance of ...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si..., Pina Bausch’s final choreographic work. Polin recalled the first time he viewed a piece by Bausch, when he was a graduate student: “The way she combined textures, landscapes, voice, and movement was a revelation. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to facilitate a comparative experience for my students at Trinity.”

Fleischman’s latest arts-supporting gift is in addition to the endowed fund he established in 2010, the Aaron I. Fleischman’60 Fund for the Study of Art, Culture, History, and Literature, created to “enrich the educational experiences for students studying English, fine arts, history, and American studies, by providing funding to those courses to access arts, culture, history, and literary experiences in New York City.”

Why are these excursions so valuable? FitzGerald said the Picasso exhibition was “an exceptional opportunity to bring together students from many disciplines before truly remarkable works of art ... We explored the insights of studio students about the ways Picasso used drawing and painting to express his ideas and joined these perceptions with the art history students’ understanding of the cultural ideas behind the works.” 

Likewise, Polin said of the Bausch performance at BAM: “This kind of experience is one of the great teaching tools to which we are granted access by virtue of Trinity’s location. In theater and dance, there is no adequate replacement for the live event...A trip like this can shift the entire focus of a student’s work and impact someone long past his or her four years at Trinity.”