Published on June 21, 2018 by Maryellen Newton  
At the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
At the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain

Samford University School of the Arts students recently traveled to study the arts in Spain and Portugal.  The class, Arts Perspective, is a requirement for all School of the Arts majors. 

Led by Professor and Associate Dean, Division of Art and Design, Larry Thompson and Associate Dean for the Division of Music Kathryn Fouse, 24 students traveled throughout these two countries studying everything from street art to gothic architecture to Spanish opera. 

The 18-day trip consisted of stops in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona and Lisbon, among others, seeing work by Antoni Gaudí, Pablo Picasso and world-renowned musicians and composers. 

Thompson and Fouse struggled to pick a favorite activity from the itinerary. Hghlights included Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Gaudí; surrealist artwork by Joan Miro; a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in Cuenca; and a performance by American composer John Adams that encapsulated design, architecture and music, the fields of Thompson and Fouse. 

Sophomore instrumental music major Keats Rivas from Trussville, Alabama, experienced art everywhere they traveled from the museums and cathedrals to other historical sites. His favorite experience was the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, where he felt God’s presence. 

“We’ve learned as Christians that God is everywhere, but when looking at the architecture and design, I feel that all of it points back to the cross and what it is to be a Christian,” Rivas said. 

The students also enjoyed visiting places where the arts saved the town. One city they visited, Fanzara, opened itself up to street artists, and now the city is adorned with beautiful artwork, a complete transformation of the small, dying town it used to be. 

“I was able to see how the culture that we experienced influenced the art that was made there,” said Madison Cooper, a sophomore graphic design major from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

“We kept coming back to the conversation that stuff that you might be doing in your major can ultimately have an impact on your wider community if you are bold enough to go there,” Thompson said. 

Thompson and Fouse hope the opportunities for the class to be taught abroad continue, perhaps stopping in cities such as Vienna and Prague, as well as in London.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.