M.F.A. Students Immerse Themselves in Berlin Art Scene

MFA students in Berlin
Artist Tom Knechtel, at left, visits in his studio with Neeraja D (M.F.A. '15), Jenn Houle (M.F.A. '15), and Michael Ashkin. photo / Connie Wong (M.F.A. '15)
M.F.A. students visit Berlin
Students visited a women's art exhibit at the me Collectors Room. photo / Jenn Houle (M.F.A. '15)
M.F.A. students visit Berlin
Annie Raccuglia (M.F.A. '16) examines a sculpture during a studio visit with Thomas Rentmeister. photo / Connie Wong (M.F.A. '15)
M.F.A. students visit Berlin
Tom Duncan (center-left, in white shirt) hosted the group at Duncan/ McCauley Studio. photo / Connie Wong (M.F.A. '15)
Artist Tom Knechtel, at left, visits in his studio with Neeraja D (M.F.A. '15), Jenn Houle (M.F.A. '15), and Michael Ashkin. photo / Connie Wong (M.F.A. '15) Students visited a women's art exhibit at the me Collectors Room. photo / Jenn Houle (M.F.A. '15) Annie Raccuglia (M.F.A. '16) examines a sculpture during a studio visit with Thomas Rentmeister. photo / Connie Wong (M.F.A. '15) Tom Duncan (center-left, in white shirt) hosted the group at Duncan/ McCauley Studio. photo / Connie Wong (M.F.A. '15)
News
May 5, 2015

"The goal was for us to experience art and life in a global context," says Connie Wong (M.F.A. '15). Wong and the other M.F.A. students spent a week in Berlin over Spring Break in a trip that included studios visits and museum and gallery tours.

The students, who were accompanied by associate professor and department chair Michael Ashkin, toured Berlin each day in groups and individually as they pursued their interests and discovered what the city could offer. They reconvened each night over dinner to discuss what they had seen, and how this connected to their own practices.

"The layered history of the city was especially interesting," says Jenn Houle (M.F.A. '15). "We were fortunate to have a private tour of the Boros Collection, housed in what was first a World War II bunker, then a storehouse for fruits and vegetables (nicknamed the banana bunker), then a night club, after which it was bought by the Boros family and remodeled for five years to house their private art collection."

The students visited the studios of Thomas Rentmeister, Tom Knechtel, Tomás Saraceno, Tom Duncan, Benjamin Rubloff (M.F.A. '11), and Olafur Eliasson, among others; the Museum für Fotografie, C/O Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, and Martin-Gropius-Bau; as well as various other galleries, markets, parks, and historic sites throughout Berlin.

"It was an excellent experience, especially getting the chance to get out of the studio and into a larger global context," says Houle. "It helped a lot to position ourselves and our work within an international art community . . . if only for a week! It was a chance to get out of the tunnel vision that can occur when focusing so closely on one's own studio practice."

"We had a chance to tightly organize this trip beforehand, while still leaving enough time for visits and events we learned of while already there," says Ashkin. "We had a wealth of input, recommendations, and contacts provided to us before we even left. It is wonderful to travel with motivated and mature students who thoroughly research a space and make the most of an opportunity. Overall it was a transformative visit — undoubtedly a high point in their program. We are extremely grateful to the gifts that made this trip possible."

The trip was funded by a generous gift from Philip Rickey (B.F.A. '84) and John Cooper (B.F.A. '97).

By Rebecca Bowes