July 15, 2021
Week two of virtual study abroad officially down! This past week has been a bit exhausting to say the least. Although I am really excited that I get to have professors who are actually from Spain, the time difference makes for an interesting schedule. Between my jog, gym time, and class time, the mornings have been early and busy. Monday through Thursday I have begun waking up at 5:30 to get ready for class or workout out before my class. My art class begins at 6 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays and my Literature class at 7:30 am on Mondays and Wednesdays. Luckily, I am a morning person so I’ve managed not to be too cranky during lectures.
This week we began actually reading The Adventures of Don Quijote de La Mancha and are analyzing 17th century Spanish art in my other class. While I am not a very artistically gifted person, I do appreciate art and the talent it takes to create it. I think, what has surprised me the most, is that there is so much more meaning behind the pieces of art we have been studying than you would originally think. Even religious works have meanings behind the straightforward depictions you first see. Artists tell you a story through the image and also represent the culture and situations of the time they created their works. As Spain entered a decline economically, socially, and politically in the 17th century, the art work produced began to shift in style. The people in these works were often depicted as lonely or sad. Their features became more realistic with wrinkles and clothing tears. These characteristics of the paintings of the time were ways artists represented the state of Spain at the time. You also see the very beginning of still life art work. This was paintings of objects with no motion or even deceased animals. They are often very plain with dark backgrounds. This also represented the emotions and feelings that surrounded Spain at the time.
Learning about how much the social, economic, and political climate affected the art of the 17th century made me begin to wonder what the art of this time will have hidden in the techniques or features. Considering the recently charged political and social climate in the United States, I imagine there will be a definite effect. However, with time and perspective we are usually able to analyze the overall mood of a region at a specific time in history. Being in the moment, I think it is harder to define this time with an overall feeling. While it has been scary and discouraging at times, at others I am filled with hope and optimism considering how many people in our country are educating themselves on very difficult topics and becoming active allies. Similar feelings surround our political system; on the one hand I am often disappointed with many aspects of it, but on the other I see how many young people are participating now more than ever and become inspired.
I think one way or another the art that ends up depicting our time period right now in the U.S. will be one that shows that these past few years and next few years will shift the direction of American culture.