The line for tickets at the Andy Warhol retrospective at the Whitney Museum stretched for six blocks the morning that 68 Trinity IB art students and their chaperones climbed out of the subway on 14th Street. “Luckily, we had bought tickets beforehand,” said trip leader and Visual Arts Department Chair Amy Baynum Chaplin ’88, “but students could tell that they were participating in a real moment of art history that day.”
The Whitney visit was just one of dozens of unforgettable experiences enjoyed by the group of IB Arts course candidates on their four-day trip to New York City, January 11-14, 2019. A favorite Trinity tradition for more than a decade, the trip alternates each year between New York and other urban arts centers like Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore.
This year’s group also got to visit the unrivaled mix of ancient and classical art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the modern European focus of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) and the American modern collection in the architecturally unique Guggenheim.
“The IB curriculum really stresses how important it is to see as much art as possible in real life,” said Chaplin. “By the time our students get to the IB level, they are already very familiar with the VMFA [here in Richmond]. So it's important to show them what else is accessible nearby. Seeing a Jackson Pollock in real life is such a different experience than seeing it on a screen or on a page.”
Even among all of the new sights and sounds, there was also excitement in seeing familiar works from their studies in real life. “When we got to the MoMa, a couple of student rushed to me, saying ‘I just saw [Andrew Wyeth’s] ‘Christina's World’!, which was the first piece they ever wrote a criticism on in Design Fundamentals in 9th grade,” said Chaplin.
Students were also encouraged to take their research workbooks with them. “Part of the IB visual arts exam is to write a comparative study,” said Chaplin. “So we encourage kids to find the artist that they were already writing about for their exam component.” Students also collect images and literature for their process portfolio, which is a journal documenting the artistic process in the two-year IB Arts program.
In the evenings, students got to enjoy the other classic sights of the city, like Rockefeller Center, Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge. But perhaps the most impactful part of the trip is the bonds of friendship that are formed over the four-day experience. “They really get to know people from other mediums and have meaningful conversations about art and what it means to be an artist,” said Chaplin. “Over the years, students have said to me, ‘Before the trip, I didn’t even know this person, and now we’re good friends because of this trip.’”