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Face-to-face with great works of art, OHIO students spend winter break exploring art history in London

Over winter break, 11 OHIO students experienced their education overseas, on the 2024 “Exploring Art in London” global opportunity program, a fast-paced, 10-day adventure investigating the history of art by traversing one of Europe's oldest capital cities. 

Luna Atkins-Hanshaw, a freshman studying film, was one of the 11 students who participated in the study abroad opportunity – something she began anticipating before even setting foot in Athens. 

“I think I was doing some research about it when I was first deciding to come to OHIO, because I did art history in high school,” she said. “That’s what led me to this program because I…wanted to do something on the side that still connected with my other interests.” 

Atkins-Hanshaw particularly enjoyed going to museums in London, as well as some city attractions like a ride on the London Eye. 

“It was really neat to see famous paintings that I studied in high school,” Atkins-Hanshaw added. “I haven’t taken an art history class here, but I feel like this was a good introduction to OHIO’s art history courses and it makes me want to continue them.” 

In addition to inspiring further study of art history, this trip is part of the reason Atkins-Hanshaw hopes to declare a minor in Art History. As a film student, she is also excited about the OHIO-in- L.A. program, which would allow her to study away and pursue her interests for a whole semester while connecting her to industry professionals. 

“I feel like the trip helped me learn how to connect with people because I went into it not knowing anyone else in the program,” Atkins-Hanshaw said. “I think it was a good way to step outside my comfort zone early on.” 

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Another student from the trip, Addy O’Rourke, a senior studying graphic design, agrees that the connection formed between the students was a highlight of the experience. For their free day, she said the students all came together and planned a day trip to Paris. They woke up at 4 a.m. and boarded the Eurostar train to the capital of France for a crash-course day of city attractions. 

“It was so fun because it was so crazy, but it was super cool because we all became very close,” O’Rourke said. “It was a really fun experience to be able to do something with people you wouldn’t know otherwise.” 

O’Rourke had hoped to study abroad in college, but due to the pandemic and other commitments, her plans were put on hold. However, this trip came at the perfect time. 

“The other thing I really liked about this program is it was during winter break, so I wouldn’t miss any school,” she said. “Everything just kind of aligned and it ended up working out really well.” 

While studying abroad, O’Rourke enjoyed learning about the cultural differences overseas. From paying for public restrooms to crossing the street to awareness of dietary restrictions, each place she visited contained new lessons in global similarities and differences. She was also refreshed to learn about art history in an immersive way. 

“I think art history itself and the way it’s taught is typically very lecture-based, so being able to surround myself in a place where we…saw things firsthand, and the dialogue was very conversational and open-ended, was really cool,” she added. 

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Lil Kessler, a sophomore studying studio art, was also fascinated to be face-to-face with iconic artworks. 

“It was amazing to be able to finally see those pieces that you’ve seen in your art history books in person, it was just unbelievable,” Kessler said. “There’s so much history in art and every artist is influenced by other artists. It’s so cool to walk through different museums and see how Van Gogh was influenced by impressionism the same way Seurat was, but in completely different ways.” 

The trip was led by Dr. Jody Lamb, who informed Kessler about the opportunity during an on-campus fair, where the two discussed the merits of the experience for an hour. After the trip, Kessler went home and began looking at plane tickets for another experience abroad, which could include a trip during graduate school. 

The “Exploring Art in London” trip inspired all of these participants to pursue further experiences abroad, in addition to earning them up-close education in art history and interpersonal connection. From museum visits to West End shows to 12 hours in the City of Light, each experience on the trip cultivated a diverse cultural and artistic education. 

To learn more about opportunities for international education in the College of Fine Arts visit the Global Opportunities landing page. 

February 13, 2024
Sophia Rooksberry, HTC ‘26