Philly Cheesesteaks with a Side of Art

In January 2023, a group of fine art majors had the opportunity to spent time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania exploring some of our nation’s finest museums and art collections, viewing masterpieces from art history to find inspiration that will influence their own creative works. The student photographers in the group also spent time creating a personal series, shooting stranger portraits, street photography, and self-portraits.

Philly Thumbanil Photo

During the 5-day adventure, Studio Art and Photography majors were exposed to Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, the Barnes Foundation, and Philadelphia’s rich landscapes and people. Students learned about the history of one of our nation’s most historical cities, the impact and ethics of the art market on our culture, and the biographies and contributions of major artists from history.

Studio Art majors documented their experience by creating a sketchbook of what they found inspiring about the city, its residents, and culture. The student created sketches stimulated thought about why the students chose art as their subject matter. These sketches will be exhibited during the 2023 University Scholars Day.

The student photographers created a personal series by shooting strangers’ portraits, street photography, and self-portraits. The students expressed their newfound knowledge and the impact of the experience through written research papers about a portrait photographer, street photographer, a favorite artist from their museum visits. The students’ photography will be displayed in a gallery showing in the Troy Plunk Gallery during the 2023 Scholars Day.

Faculty: How did you see your students grow or change?

Brian Bundren: Students were able to converse more deeply about art and their own personal philosophies regarding art making. Students grew in their artistic skills and found inspiration to bring into the new semester.

Jud Davis: My favorite part of any trip is to see students with a camera hanging from their neck and to see them overcome an introverted personality to walk up to a complete stranger and say, “may I take your photo.” Whether Philadelphia or New York, the confirmation that comes over them when someone says yes, and they take their photo, and then show it to them, is priceless. That feeling alone is worth any trip.

Students: How did participating in the project benefit you?

Libby Rominger: I loved the trip to Philadelphia. It gave me so many opportunities to grow as a photographer and explore places I’ve always wanted to go. I overcame a lot fears about approaching people, posing people, and taking pictures of complete strangers. I never thought I would do those things, but this trip allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and create some great images.

Callie French: City was big.

Author unknown: Trips like this allow me to grow closer to people in my program I would have never met on campus. As a senior, I was able to connect and share with people of like interests, like faith and like minds who were younger than me, yet very much still like me.

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