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COFA offers Italian experience

The Parthenon

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 00:02

Marshall University students will experience art, culture and history through an interdisciplinary program in Florence, Italy this summer.

The program is hosted by the College of Fine Arts and provides educational opportunities in art and English through a three-week course taught by Marshall professors Rachael Peckham and Daniel Kaufmann.

Peckham, professor of English, said the program is a marriage of media promoting artistic expression and students will create and publish blogs as a way to transform their experiences into digitalized works of art.  
Peckham said the course is flexible, specifically for art students.

“I think that language should be considered another medium,” Peckham said. “I might encourage students to look at the way that writing can achieve some the effects they’re going for in visual art.”

The course will give students the opportunity to practice photography and creative nonfiction and the aesthetics, ethics and strategies they involve. Students will gain experience through exploration, journaling and field trips to Rome and Venice.

Don Van Horn, dean of the COFA, serves as director of the program and expresses the importance of international experiences to every student. This year, students from the College of Health Professions, the College of Business, the College of Science and other colleges within the university will join the COFA students in an exploration of culture.

Van Horn said he attributes the decision to base the program in Florence to his background in visual arts and his affinity for the city.  
“I always wanted it to have a strong visual art component and you couldn’t pick a much better city,” Van Horn said.

Van Horn describes the strong emphasis on art in terms of its evidence in the work that students produce after returning from the program.

“Their work grows in its sophistication because they’ve been exposed to contemporary work from across the world. So, you begin to see some of those contemporary trends show up in their work,” Van Horn said. “I can recall seeing historical references show up in students’ work that you probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”

This is the fourth year the program has been offered, and according to Van Horn, about 50 students have participated in the course over the past three years.

“It’s really going to be an immersion experience,” Peckham said. “It’s about getting over there and being immersed in the culture, in the art, in the history, and you don’t know how that will influence what doors will be opened for you.”

Codi Mohr can be contacted at


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