The HWS Rome study abroad program was recently featured in the Summer 2015 edition of the magazine, ArchitectureBoston. The article, “At Issue: Sit. Look. Sketch.,” highlights the travel-sketching component of the program and includes reflections from Assistant Professor of Architecture and Chair of Urban Studies Kirin Makker as well as an online gallery of sketches featuring work from students on the trip.
ArchitectureBoston is the quarterly publication of the Boston Society of Architects and aims to explore the ways architecture influences and is influenced by our environment and society. In the article, Makker reflects on her sketching experience on a visit to Vienna while leading the Rome trip. She discusses how sketching places and objects allows her to “look closely, to think visually, and to investigate what works and what could work better.” Her sketch of street-furniture pieces in the Museum Quarter of Vienna are featured with the article. The article also includes reflections from several other professionals in the architecture field.
“I’m truly honored,” Makker says. “These types of magazine articles are rare and there are many talented and thoughtful sketchbook artists out there in education. But there is only one liberal arts architectural studies program in the country that deeply integrates hand-drawing into their curricular and co-curricular experiences, and that’s here at HWS.”
The program, which was led by Makker and Assistant Professor of Art History Liliana Leopardi, took 30 art and architecture students to Rome and across Europe, where sketching served as a key component of the program to help students gain a heightened sense of place and enhance their experience.
“I don’t know Italian culture or art history, but I know how to use drawing as a tool for investigation and analysis,” explains Makker. “My classes are about looking closely at designed places and spaces.”
Makker explains that students in the architectural studies program are encouraged to practice sketching not just abroad, but in all of the architecture courses taught at the Colleges. Although it’s difficult to teach and learn, Makker says the architectural studies program values “hand-making methods of inquiry and creative expression,” as it provides an essential technical skill set to students.
Throughout the trip, students were required to keep a sketchbook and encouraged to include sketches and diagrams in their notes during their coursework and travels. Brooks Miller ’17, whose sketches are featured in the gallery along with 14 other students’ work, says that keeping a sketchbook while abroad not only improved his drawing skills, but also taught him how to organize his thoughts as he’s been able to apply sketching as a method of note taking to a varied array of courses.
“Sketching was a key facet of my study abroad experience,” says Miller. “Keeping a sketchbook in Rome changed the way I looked at architecture and public spaces in general. I will definitely take what I learned through sketching in Rome and apply it to my other courses at HWS – including non-architecture courses.”
In the fall semester, the group will be “unveiling” their sketchbooks at an event at Stomping Grounds in downtown Geneva. All of the sketchbooks used on the trip were purchased through Stomping Grounds in an effort on behalf of the architectural studies program to “share the love” and support local businesses.
“Everyone in the program worked really hard to improve their work during the semester, so it’s nice that others will be able to see what we were able to accomplish,” Miller says. “Kirin Makker is a tremendous professor, and her enthusiasm and guidance encouraged us to push or limits and improve our skills and techniques.”
Link to student gallery: http://www.architects.org/architectureboston/articles/student-gallery