New photography exhibit encompasses works from students’ exploration, experience in Italy

Cultural awareness is a vital artistic element. Larry Schwarm, distinguished professor of photography, offers his students an opportunity to see the world for themselves.

As part of his 500-level photography class, Schwarm takes a group of students on an international trip each spring break. In years past, destinations have included Cuba, Turkey, and the Netherlands. This spring, he and seven students traveled 16 hours to Italy.

“Venice is a magical place and there’s no place like it in the world,” Schwarm said. “While we were there, we saw lots of Renaissance and Baroque art, but also the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.”

Having traveled abroad with students four times already, Schwarm has his spring semester routine down.

“There’s about six weeks from the beginning of school until we leave,” Schwarm said. “We meet one day a week and discuss all of the places we’ll be going; then I assign each student a particular subject. Beyond that, I told them to photograph anything and everything.”

“As well as the photography, I introduce them to the culture and history. We learn as much as we can.”

Trips are limited to ten students, and Schwarm gives top priority to photography majors, followed by other art students and anyone else interested in going. The trip to Italy cost about $2,500 per student, which covered everything from transportation and lodging to meals. Months before leaving, Schwarm made flight arrangements, booked Airbnbs, and secured car rentals.

“The art department has been very generous with scholarships,” Schwarm said. “There’s also a group called Art Advocates which raises funds to help students with different kinds of art projects. Last year they gave us almost $1,000 to cover museum admissions.”

Courtesy Photo

While in Italy, the group met up at least once each day, but students were encouraged to split off and enjoy free time.

The adventure was a first for Mariah Drussel, a senior photography major.

“I made it a goal to acknowledge the little things that might easily be overlooked,” Drussel said. “I think soaking up the small details such as how the coffee is brewed or the way traffic flows made for an incredible experience.”

Students received a grade for the photographs taken in Italy, and much of their work is on display in an exhibit called “Italia,” showing until Oct. 6 at The Wilson K. Cadman Art Gallery on the first floor of the RSC.

Kara Maleski, a senior art education major, accompanied Schwarm to both the Netherlands and Italy.

“Having the opportunity to travel abroad on these trips has allowed me to further my education in a very exciting way,” Maleski said. “I’m excited that we are showing our photos in the Cadman Gallery. I love seeing our experiences and memories on display for the student body to see.”

Schwarm said he plans to continue traveling abroad with students for many years to come.

“I absolutely think that in order to understand the world, you have to see the world,” Schwarm said. “These trips have been about a week long and I’ve felt like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I think the students who have gone with me have realized that, too — that there’s just so much to see. I want to be as adventurous with and for them as possible.”