Wright State students go to Italy

By Sarah Cavender ’20

The Wright State art history program partnered with the photography program in the summer of 2022 for an unforgettable experience for students studying abroad.

Led by Caroline Hillard, Ph.D., associate professor of art history, and Tracy Longley-Cook, associate chair of the School of Fine and Performing Arts and associate professor of art, this was the first time the two programs created an opportunity for students from both to earn credits.

Seventeen students attended the three-week-long trip, where they stayed in Florence, Italy, and Rome.

“The Italy program that I went on in July was the last class that I needed to graduate,” Kara Thornbury said. “It was a really great end to the four and a half years it took me to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts.” Thornbury also minored in French and attended the France trip in 2019.

Throughout the trip, students completed either photo assignments or short writing assignments, based on the course they were enrolled in. During the weekends, students could explore on their own and visit the beaches and shops—and try to sightsee on an iconic Italian motor vehicle.

One unique experience was a scaffolding tour of the frescoes in Brancacci Chapel, a church in Florence, painted by artists Masaccio and Masolino in the 1400s.

“The artist Masaccio is regarded as the first Renaissance painter, the founder of the Renaissance style,” Hillard said. “We teach about him in all the introductory art history classes. He painted this series of frescoes, or these wall paintings in a chapel, and we have visited that chapel on previous trips.”

“However, on this particular trip, the chapel was about to undergo restoration. They had scaffolding set up in the chapel, and they were allowing a limited number of visitors to climb the scaffolding to get up close as opposed to just seeing them from the ground.”

For many students, this was their first experience in Italy. For Longley-Cook, it was one of her favorite parts about studying abroad. “I think witnessing the students sort of go through those life-changing experiences, for me was probably, I hate to sound cheesy, but it was really one of the top elements.”

There are no immediate plans for a return to Italy, but according to Hillard, it is hoped there will be an Italy trip in summer 2025.

The trips are available to all students, not just those in the creative arts. “I worked in study abroad even before I came to Wright State,” Hillard said. “I witnessed myself how it changes people’s lives, and it’s completely different, if all you’ve known is Ohio, and now you’re suddenly in a place where the food is different and everything looks different.”

This article was originally published in the fall 2023 issue of the Wright State Magazine. Read more stories at wright.edu/magazine.

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