The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 28, 2013

Picturing Italian art

The Free Press

— Prior to their arrival in Italy, students in William Bukowski’s three-credit “Masterpieces of the Western Tradition” course were steeped in the history of Italian art and architecture.

From the Duomo in Florence, to the Colosseum in Rome, from the magnificent Trevi Fountain to Donatello’s anguished “St. Mary Magdalen” — 19 students spent eight weeks learning, studying and analyzing that country’s great masterpieces remotely from their classroom on the Bethany Lutheran College campus.

But, as Bukowski has observed every time he’s taken students on the trip to Italy, classroom instruction pales in comparison to seeing the real thing.

“What I enjoy is that, for eight weeks, I’ve been talking to students about this art and telling them how great it is,” said the Bethany art instructor who has led the semi-annual sojourn of art and architecture to Italy since 1997. “But then I bring them and they’re like, ‘Wow.’ ... Nothing compares to being there.”

For 12 days this month, Bethany art students and art-lovers toured Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Assisi, Rome and Pompeii.

For Bukowski, it marked another meticulously planned and guided tour that shared a little of the passion he gained for the country while living there on two short sabbaticals earlier in his career.

For students, the trip was often described in effusive terms like “best,” “amazing” and “awe-inspiring.” Some students even admitted they were so overcome with aesthetic beauty that they cried.

“Italy is the best,” Bukowski said. “It’s this sort of magical place of overlapping history and culture and art.”

The following is a selection of photographs and observations shared by Bethany students: