I grew up moving around a lot. So naturally, I’m drawn to new cultures. Not just drawn, but actually feel in my element in the discomfort of learning new ways. Everyone has an expertise, and I’d say mine is being new somewhere. I’ve done it so many times. The intensity of that experience is deeply inspiring, especially when there is history to learn.
All that to say, I went to Europe for a week and a half with my mom to soak in some new inspiration. These sights will make appearances in my 2019 work.
London — St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The National Gallery
I was there for the National Gallery. But the cathedrals were also feats of architectural and artistic genius, obviously steeped in history.
My mom and I took a couple Ubers in London, and we liked talking to the drivers. Our Ethiopian driver said something about London that really stayed with me: “You don’t feel foreign here.” I looked around and saw how true that was. It wasn’t just race and ethnicity, but body types too. British media seems more on point with diversity and inclusion compared to American media.
Kent — Leeds Castle
I didn’t know a lot about this castle before going there. I mostly just loved the idea of spending a weekend at a castle–over my birthday. (I did learn some history too. Go to the Leeds Castle website if you want to read about it.) This castle and its surrounding property is breathtaking.
As a kid, I loved British literature, and their movie adaptations. I always dreamed of staying at an old English manor and taking a walk on a cool, misty morning. (Misty was important because that’s what makes the mood in the movies.) Sure enough, the only gray, misty day on the trip was my birthday!
Paris — Montmartre, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower
The final leg involved hopping on a train and riding through the Chunnel to Paris. This is where I got to soak in the charm of the artist village of Montmartre. It’s significant to art history in that many famous artists, those who pioneered impressionism, post-impressionism, and some expressionism, spent time and painted some of their best-known works there. The Montmartre Museum is the former home of Auguste Renoir, Suzanne Valadon, Andre Utter, among many others.
The vastness of the Louvre was overwhelming. And yes, there were tons and tons of famous works there (including the Mona Lisa), but my favorite part was seeing local artists studying them by painting and drawing their responses. Famous impressionists actually did the same at the Louvre in their day! Observing those moments made me think that history, captured in art, is still creating a dialogue in contemporary society.
Finally, the Eiffel Tower was a sight to behold. When I got there, I actually had no desire to go to the top. The tower itself is incredible.
The point of inspiration scouting is to process through new experiences and senses to translate them into artwork. As I said before, this trip will be in my 2019 collections. Some of my overall thoughts were about diversity, sanctuary, and the dialogue with history. I was also proud of the fact that I managed to navigate through two different countries–one with a language barrier–by plane, bus, Uber, train and on foot with limited WiFi and no cell service!
And that was Europe. This time. 😉