Going with European (Southwest) Art program has been the best decision of my entire Proctor career so far. Ten of us, Beth, Caroline, Dave, Jules, Jen, Maeve, Maxx, Stella, Toby, and I, all live in a beautiful house where the magnificent landscape is right on our doorsteps.
Despite the bumpy American Airline flight and the relentless Arizonian heat, all of us are immersed in art right from the get-go.
Dave and Jen are not only the program directors and our parents here, but they are also wonderful artists who are passionate about art’s history, concepts, and meanings.
As someone who has never taken art seriously, I suddenly find myself observing closely and carefully at my surroundings, and the first day's lesson on values, colors, and complements echo in my mind. The enthusiasm towards art is contagious, and, from teachers to students and between experienced and neophytes, it spreads like wildfire.
The cardinal by Caroline the Frog, colorful skyscrapers by Maxx, Eden-like marshland by Beth, “Cape Cod” by Maeve the architect and the calligrapher, “The Red Mountain” by Stella, and more, it has only been one week, but our artworks are filling up an entire wall of the studio.
My "Page 1", Gothic for our term long hand made book making project.
The food is amazing. Southwest program is presumably a temporary measure during the pandemic, and I honestly did not expect Jen and Dave to know so much about the region. They know where the best taco place, pizza shop, and more, and brought the group to the Sonora Desert museum.
Honestly, I never really liked Mexican food, but what I have had so far has overwrote my past impressions on it; to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. We also cook dinners ourselves, in groups of two, alternating every two days.
We made our own burritos, burgers, kebabs (Jules, who has never grilled before, is a grandmaster at it), and more, and, with the instructions from Dave, there is no need for previous cooking experience.
This is not a 2-months leisure trip, however. This program is rigorous. Every student needs to sketch in their art journals, write their literature journals, design their own artbooks, make a hand-tooled leather cover, read assigned readings, and make presentations about artists.
But it is not a pressure cooker. We have movie nights and a lot of free time to pursue and explore our interests. I started to learn Ukulele on my own, something I would have never thought that I would ever do, listening to Dave and Maxx playing the guitar, while Toby the Prince, the Taurus, is seriously considering starting a harmonica career to flex more than just his cut-off flannels.
With remarkably fine music tastes (totally imagine dragons fans), supremely dazzling personalities, and tremendously mature social skills, this group is off to a great start.
Oh, we found a very distant relative to the great Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens and his daughter Clara.
You see? Art is all around us...always.
- Jason "King Leo" '21