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2022 Hohenberg Travel Award: Grace Carney (MFA 2022)

Grace Carney, Drawing XIII, 2022

            My experience traveling in France, by virtue of the Hohenberg Travel Award, this past summer changed my work in ways I was unaware of until recently. I found it very helpful to leave New York after graduating from the Studio School- where I had incredible support- and experience a foreign environment. Because of the grant, I could travel and live in the south of France for a month, and work on a new series of large-scale sanguine crayon drawings.

Eugène Delacroix, The Death of Sardanapalus, 1827, Musée du Louvre, Paris

            I began my trip in Paris by visiting the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, then traveled down to Arles for an exhibition of Nicole Eisenman at the Van Gogh Foundation. I then traveled to a small village in the Cévennes mountain range, where I lived for a month and worked on a series of drawings. While there, I went on long walks in the mountains, experienced local villages and markets, and went on weekend trips to Nîmes and Camargue. I finished the trip back in Paris, where I visited the Petit Palais, the Picasso Museum, and the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture so rich in art, history, and nature. Although I had a wonderful trip, at times, it felt very isolating. It was a challenge to step outside my comfort zone and regular routine of making work. I found myself very much alone in a rural environment without the support of friends and teachers.  That being said, I found that integrating those challenges into the work produced a more fruitful and rewarding outcome. 

View of Cévennes Mountain Range

            While working, I was surprised to find the effect being in France had on me. It was when I came back to the States and looked at everything together, that I observed a new sense of clarity in my work, as well as a freedom I do not think I had while in school. I believe the Nicole Eisenman exhibit in Arles opened a new door for me. The exhibition was a beautiful retrospective of Eisenman’s work alongside 28 modern artists, such as James Ensor, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso. I was amazed at the range of her work from the vastness of her mark making and mediums to all the different ways of depicting a figure. It was also helpful to see how she was able to glean inspiration from other artists in the exhibition and use that information in her own work. This aided me as I visited more museums in France and saw works in person I had only studied, such as Courbet’s L’Atelier du Peintre and Manet’s Olympia at the Musée d’Orsay, and the Medici suite at the Louvre.

Nicole Eisenman, Progress: Real and Imagined, 2006, seen in Arles

            The best part of the trip was being in the Louvre, by myself, viewing the Medici suite by Peter Paul Rubens.  So much of my work draws from Rubens and it was a singular experience to see such a large amount in one place. Previously, I have only studied Rubens in the Met and online. Only in person is one able to understand the magic and complexities of paint and color and surface.  

Peter Paul Rubens, The Disembarkation at Marseilles, part of the Medici cycle, 1622-1625, Musée du Louvre, Paris

            Overall, the trip set me up for a successful and fruitful exchange program between the Studio School and the Slade School in London where I am currently enrolled. I have benefitted from being in new environments, freed from the comfort of routine. It is both exhilarating and lonesome.  Being away has pushed me to be more curious and braver within my work, as well as more confident in myself as I now leave school.

Snapshots From NYSS

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