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NMAT senior inspired by KEY trip to Italy

Arts Campus Life Apr 10, 2024
Two women stand in front of a church in Italy

KOKOMO, Ind. — Viewing paintings she’d only seen on a screen or in a book was the experience of a lifetime for Abby Carman.

Seeing those works with fellow artists made it even better.

“Going on a trip with other art people, who appreciate the same types of things you do, really enriches the experience,” said Carman, an Indiana University Kokomo senior. “I don’t think I’d ever have the same experience if I went with my family. My friends and professor bring more to it. We can appreciate work in different ways, so it allows us to be more open minded toward how to interpret a piece.”

Carman, who graduates in May with a degree in new media, art, and technology (NMAT), participated in a nine-day trip to Italy through the Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) program during spring break. The group visited Rome, Siena, Florence, and Venice, where they toured sites including the Colosseum, Pantheon, Pompeii, the Sistine Chapel, the Duomo complex, and St. Mark’s Basilica, among others.

“It’s definitely impacted how I see and view art even more than going to galleries nearer to home,” she said, adding that before the trip, the farthest she had been from Kokomo was Florida. “Seeing older pieces of architecture and paintings and sculpture in person really allowed me to grow as an artist. Going with a group of fellow artists my age made it even better, because they appreciated the same things I looked for in art. They also showed me different things they appreciated, which opened new interpretations for how to view a piece.”

Carman especially enjoyed Siena, finding it more tranquil than larger cities on their agenda.

“In certain areas of the city it was very quiet, and the scenery was just gorgeous,” she said. “It didn’t have the same hustle and bustle as Florence or Rome.”

She also enjoyed the Botticelli room at the Uffizi Gallery, especially viewing “Primavera,” a large panel painting by Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli.

“I couldn’t believe how much detail was in that piece when you got up close to it, the amount of details within the plants, and the highlights on the skin with gold highlights throughout the painting. It was just amazing. When you see it in an art history textbook, it doesn’t capture that level of detail.”

Carman said her favorite site was likely the Boboli Gardens in the Pitti Palace, because of the variety of plants and the peaceful nature of the day.

“I use a lot of nature themes in my work,” she said. “It was nice to see various plants from a different country, that we don’t have here. I appreciated the overall amount of sculptures, and the layout of the gardens was very nice. It was very different from the rest of the trip. The rest of it felt very fast paced. This particular place allowed me to slow down toward the end of the trip and appreciate what I was there for.”

She hopes to incorporate some of what she saw into an undergraduate research project she’s working on with Minda Douglas, associate professor of fine arts, who co-led the trip. They are creating a collaborative collage on cyanotypes in an eight-foot artwork inspired by geology. Cyanotype is a slow-reacting photography process that involves laying objects on paper coated in a solution of iron salts and exposing it to UV light, then washing with water to create blue and white images.

“It’s definitely a good experience to work alongside Minda to get a feel of the more professional side of being an artist,” Carman said. “I’m learning ways she goes about creating works, and it’s nice to bounce ideas off each other, and becoming more inspired to create the piece.

“Minda has been a mentor, especially this last year,” she continued. “I don’t think my experience at IU Kokomo would be as enriched as it has been without my professors. They are amazing here. I’ve learned so much about being an artist.”

After graduating, she hopes to continue into a Master of Fine Arts program, specializing in print making.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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Erin Witt, director of media and marketing

Danielle Rush, communications specialist

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