The Art and Design Department returned to Chicago from March 23-27 for the first time in two years. Until 2020, the department has taken the trip every spring semester since 2007.
The Art and Design Department has three main sections: interior architecture and design, graphic design and fine arts. While they are different paths, the department has managed to find one place that connects to all three — Chicago.
“The purpose has always been to really explore both the art as well as the architecture of the city,” Art and Design Department Chair Amy Cox said. “Things that will help them better understand their specific profession.”
Cox led both a bus and a walking tour on the first day, teaching students about the history and architecture of the city. Chicago was devastated by a fire in 1871, which wiped out a majority of the city’s downtown. At the same time, a lot of architectural innovations, like the invention of steel, were created. Chicago was the home of the first skyscraper, as well as the workplace of famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
“Every major architect [has] a building there from the last couple hundred years,” Cox said.
Chicago is also the home of the second largest art museum in the United States, the Art Institute of Chicago, making it a perfect location for all majors in the Art and Design Department.
Cox said that not being able to take the trip during COVID-19 really made her see what an impact it had on students.
“It seemed like students were not as enthusiastic or excited about some of the parts of our profession,” Cox said. “They didn’t fully understand — maybe because they hadn’t visited these places — what the bigger picture of what we do is.”
Typically juniors go on the trip; in fact, it is a required experience for the interior architecture students. Senior interior architecture and design major Alaina Jones was unable to go while the department was waiting out COVID-19, and so she made a point to join this year instead. She said the trip was beneficial because it helps students see what they are going to do once they enter the job force.
“I’ve studied this since I was a freshman, and then to get to see it actually in real life is kind of surreal,” Jones said. “It just made me excited for my future in design after graduation.”
Assistant professor of Art Tessa Davidson was also a part of the trip and led the fine arts students.
“Traveling is important to artists because it provides exposure and inspiration,” Davidson said. “To prepare our students professionally, we need to be up to speed with contemporary trends. A city like Chicago provides this kind of exposure, and it also has numerous outlets for our students to draw inspiration from historic works.”
Davidson traveled on the Art and Design Department’s first trip to Chicago and said it was very formative in her development as an artist.
“It’s exciting to see that it has been woven into the fabric of our curriculum, and I’m glad that I can be a part of it, as well,” Davidson said.