Conference Abroad Series – #2

Going Abroad to attend a conference includes getting to see places related to its purpose. In this case, the 2016 Annual International Conference for Paragone Studies took place in Manchester, in the northwest part of England, said to be the world’s first industrial city.  Activities included in the trip were planned to interest art historians, so of course on Excursion Day the participants were offered the option of accompanying us to visit John Rylands Library as our first stop.


Just a short walking distance from our hotel, we set out in the city center.  What I noticed and admired was the fact that people do much more walking here.  Stopping at some of the corners in order to cross a street, words are written on the ground around the curve of the corner that say, “Look Left,” or, ”Look Right,” indicating the direction of potential oncoming one-way traffic.  On the sidewalks next to many of the buildings were worn glass tiles from which you could discern light showing through to lower levels of the buildings.  It added to the charm of the architecture that very closely resembled the Harry Potter movies.

I was curious why a library was on our list of places to see among the art museums.  It stood in stark contrast next to a very modern-looking building.  It was charming, though it did not stand out to me among the various time periods represented in this cityscape.  However, as soon as we stepped inside, I knew exactly why we were here.  The John Rylands Library is said to be one of the finest libraries in the world and best example of neo-Gothic architecture in Europe. Taking ten years to build, according to the design by architect Basil Champneys (1842-1935), the library was a tribute by Mrs. Rylands to her late husband John Rylands who was Manchester’s first textile millionaire.

Although all of the bookshelves are encased under glass with Art-Nouveau locks, a style amidst the Victorian Gothic, this is very much a working library.  Researches from all over the world can easily gain access to the books and items in the collection that spans 5000 years from all corners of the world.  One of the art historians from the conference, as a matter of fact, made use of the opportunity to stay behind during this stop on our excursion to see a book for research.  I made a mental note for future reference that these professional scholars make use of all opportunities to research, view and photograph items relevant to their work, including during conference trips.  Why not?

The original Entrance Hall contains a group of statues called, Theology directing the labours of Science and Art by Irish sculptor John Cassidy (1860-1939), who also created the sculptures of John Rylands himself overlooking the Historic Reading Room and Mrs. Rylands from the opposite end.  The stained glass windows and numerous sculptures aligning the reading room, draw from theology, literature, the arts and science, as a fitting tribute to those individuals who have contributed to human knowledge.  Every inch of the building and its contents reflect the beauty of the period, well-known for its florid ornamentation.  It was an exceptionally beautiful place for one to be immersed in the atmosphere of another time while researching from primary sources.

After perusing the library, I gathered the conference participants and led them outside to meet our taxi’s for our next stop on this Excursion Day.  I think now of why should this matter to the students at UM-Flint?  Maybe the best way to put it is: Education Abroad makes things more real than you can get out of books or the internet.  When you can actually see the scale of something surrounding you, when you can touch it, move through it and take it in as a whole…it begins to broaden possibilities.

It’s time to start thinking about what you are studying and how you can gain experience from going abroad for a conference, or for an academic program.  Yes, it enhances your studies, but it also allows you to experience another culture in the day-to-day and with this comes meeting new people.  You are going to meet people who share your interests and passions, people beneficial to you professionally and people who may become lifelong friends.  Go for it.


The John Rylands Library -Visitor Information, University of Manchester, Deansgate, Manchester, UK, 2016.






*Some images in this blogpost are designated from (c) 2016 The University of Manchester, all rights reserved.  All others images are courtesy of the author.






Coming Soon!  Next stop in the Conference Abroad Series- #3: The Monastery in Gorton.



Conference Abroad Series – #1

conferenceWhen going abroad for a scholarly conference, there are many things that can be gleaned from this amazing experience that feeds into one’s life, education and career. Whatever your reasons for thinking about travel to a faraway place for a conference, I assure you that you will return with much more than you initially considered.  In this Conference Abroad Series, I will be sharing my experiences in hopes that you will seriously consider the advantages of traveling abroad at some point during your college career.

First, let me tell you a little bit about myself to give you some background into why I decided to go to Manchester, UK through an opportunity to participate in several ways at an Art History conference.  I came to UM-Flint to finish my art degree.  However, as many transfer students know, universities require a certain number of credit hours to be taken ‘in residence’ at their school.  Jumping through those hoops included taking more art history, something I had not enjoyed at other schools I had attended.  From my course experience, I thought it was simply boring memorization.  That is, until I tookgallery-header_1000 my first course at UM-Flint from Dr. Sarah Lippert.  I had never taken a course like this before, full of information in regards to history, philosophy, politics, economics, science and much more, all as they relate to putting art in context for understanding the why-when-where-how of their creation and display.  My eyes opened, and very wide, I might add.  Her courses made me think much differently about art.  They enabled me to communicate about it on levels I had never even considered before through writing and public speaking.  As it turned out, it was not enough for me to simply complete my art degree, a BFA in Printmaking and Drawing, so I added a second degree in Art History and Criticism.  I could not stop there.  I am currently enrolled in the Arts Administration program to further my interest in museums, galleries and other spaces, and to learn ways to help other artists achieve their professional goals through entrepreneurship and working with arts organizations and events.  All of this came about because of my eye-opening experience in the first art history class I took here.  It changed me.

So why did I decide to go to this conference?  What difference would it make?  Honestly, I almost decided not to go, but then I had a change of heart….my passport beckoned me to have a stamp from somewhere off this continent.  So yes, that was a benefit, albeit a small one in the scheme of things.  When it came down to it, I wanted to learn.

manchester_hotel-viewGoing to this conference meant that I would be participating in a variety of roles.  The ideas that swirled in my head were about what I intended to learn about conducting a conference, as assistant to the director, about whether it would feel different participating as Chair to one of the sessions introducing professional scholars, and then presenting a paper along with them as a graduate student.  I thought about the places we would visit and what I hoped to see that would enhance my own academic program and at the same time inform the research that I am presenting to you in this blog.  Little did I know.

In this series of blog posts I will go more in depth, but let me just say that going abroad for a conference is much more than the ideas that swirled in my head as I watched the calendar until it was time to pack and head to the airport.  It gave me so much more than I anticipated, and yes, it is much different than attending a conference locally or domestically.  It’s better in so many ways that I will be telling you about.  Until then, I urge you to check out every opportunity to go abroad while you are attending UM-Flint.  Don’t let the finances scare you.  There are a myriad of programs and opportunities available to fund your trip.  Talk with faculty and visit the link and get started!  Education Abroad Office at University of Michigan-Flint.


“Let’s Do This,” my view while sitting on the plane, getting ready to leave Flint, Michigan to fly to Manchester, UK.


Vasari – Good Composition


“He who studies good painting and sculpture … must necessarily have acquired a good method in art. Hence springs the invention which groups figures in fours, sixes, tens, twenties, in such a manner as to represent battles and other great subjects of art.  This invention demands an innate propriety springing out of harmony and obedience; thus if a figure move to greet another, the figure saluted having to respond should not turn away … He [the artist] must always take care … that everything is in relation to the work as a whole; so that harmonious unity, wherein the passions strike terror, and the pleasing effects shed sweetness, representing directly the intention of the painter, and not the things he had not thought of.”—–from LIVES OF THE ARTISTS by Giorgio Vassari, 1568.


Artist and Community

Take a tip from painting and drawing instructor, Tim Kranz: “Artist’s have to make their own opportunities,” and that is exactly what he does by supporting local businesses with his art. Recently, his artwork could be seen at the Warming Party for The Local Grocer in downtown Flint. Engaging with the community, is something that benefits both local business and artists.Tim Krantz2  This reciprocating act draws in new customers to discover something new and enlivens the community. For artists, it is an opportunity to show your work between exhibitions, to keep your name out there and to generate interest in your work.

According to Tim, “I feel that students in art benefit from studio practice as well as from learning about art history, going to contemporary exhibits, and through lectures on a variety of subjects from a variety of sources. I believe that a good painting or drawing instructor teaches fundamentals through demonstrations while also catering to the strengths and weaknesses of individual students. While learning certain techniques and processes is important, I do my best to let each student’s creativity come through in the way they execute their works.”

He demonstrates to his students many ways in which the artist can tap into opportunities to grow their professional careers, and works tirelessly to support their exhibitions in the UCEN Fine Art Gallery on campus as well as at local venues such as the Annual Student Art Exhibition which takes place at the Greater Flint Arts Council and Buckham Gallery, among others.

More about Tim Krantz, see:  Facebook  and  TimKrantz.com


Pigments just aren’t the same anymore

Edward Buns-JonesSir Edward Burne-JonesThe Last sleep of Arthur in Avalon (1881-1898), Museo de Arte – Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Mummy Brown was an especially popular pigment in the 19th century.  Evidently, Edward Burne-Jones didn’t mind using the ground up, corpses of embalmed ancient-Egyptian mummies that enhanced the look and style of his Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

Find out more:

A Pigment from the Depths

The Life and Death of Mummy Brown

Pigments through the Ages



Did you know?



Criss Kelly, Brocade, graphite, charcoal, pastel, copper leaf on paper.

Applying some gold or metal leaf to your artwork?  Try this from the 15th century, though, I would not recommend it:

“Take clean garlic bulbs, to the volume of two or three porringers, or one; pound them in a mortar, squeeze them through a linen cloth two or three times.  Take this juice, and work up a little white lead and bole with it, as fine as ever you can…And when you want to use any of this mordant, put a little of it into a little glazed dish with a small amount of urine, and stir it up thoroughly with a straw.”         ———-From IL LIBRO DELL’ARTE BY Cennino Cennini, c. 1435