During April break of 2017, 24 art students and six faculty members will make the long journey to India for the annual art trip to experience the culture and art of a place vastly different from Wellesley.
Thom Carter, the head of the Department of Visual Arts for the entire Wellesley Public Schools system, chose the destination of this years trip several months ago.
“Since we have an extra day of vacation because Good Friday starts our vacation, we knew that we could go a bit farther afield so places like China, India, and Southeast Asia all entered our radar. We narrowed it down between China and India…then we had the kids vote,” said Carter.
The flight itself is the most difficult aspect of the trip. “It is a whole day of travel,” Carter said.
However, the amazing itinerary more than makes up for the many hours sitting on the plane. The trip begins in Delhi, a city full of architecturally amazing temples and beautiful art museums. After two days, the students will leave for Agra, where they will see a special show at the Taj Mahal. The students will return to the Taj Mahal the next morning to capture the sun rising over the marble structure. From there, the group will head to Jaipur to see the Amber Fort and ride to some of the local bazaars in rickshaws.
Over the next few days, the students will take a jeep safari through the desert and see the amazing temple complex outside of Jaipur. From Jaipur, the next stop is Vapour, where they will visit a fort on an island in the middle of a lake. After almost two weeks of beautiful sights, the students will head for home.
This year, unlike in years past, students will receive credits for the work that they do on the trip. Every year, the students turn in a collection of photos and a sketchbook from the trip, the completion of which will earn them school credit this year.
“It is work, but it is fun work…you really learn a lot by observations, so that is why we have those projects to get people to observe a bit differently,” said Carter.
The students will have numerous opportunities to create art while on the trip.
“It is an amazing sight to see the sun rise on [The Taj Mahal] because it is all made out of marble so it changes colors. The photographers are going to have fun!” said Carter. “We will have people photograph it and also journal about what the experience was like.”
Delhi will present another number of opportunities for art pieces.
“In Delhi, after we go to the art museum, they have to pick a piece that unique and create a piece [inspired by the piece they saw in the museum],” Carter said. “We actually may have one of the markets be a place that everyone buys something knowing that it will be turned into an art piece and have a competition between chaperone groups.”
Nadine Richardson ’17 who has been on the art trip every year of her high school career, is very excited to create art inspired by the trip.
“You get to see a lot more places and appreciate people’s differences and through the art aspects you get to find beauty in all of it while you are taking pictures, while you are drawing, so it’s very exciting,” said Richardson.
Despite the many attractions of the trip, students may still have misgivings about visiting a place so different from where they live. However, Carter has a response to those questioning whether or not to take that jump.
“Go. Conquer that fear or those misgivings. One of the the reasons that we were looking into China, India, and Southeast Asia was the culture shock. Wellesley is a wonderful place to live and grow up, but it is very sheltered and there is a lot out there. 90 percent [of the world] is not like Wellesley!” said Carter.
Richardson also encourages people to stray from their comfort zone.
“I think it is very important because you get a view of life outside of the bubble, which especially in a town like Wellesley can become a bubble of ignorance,” she said.
Carter hopes that for kids who go, India will be a trip that sticks with them for the rest of their life.
“It will be a culture shock, but I do think that it will be a culture shock that is valuable. Some people have said that they just don’t want to see poverty like that and unfortunately it exists and is there and while we are not taking special tours through the ghettos, you can’t avoid it,” he said. “I want to help kids see that. I know that some kids feel guilty, but then you need to ask yourself, what can you do with that guilt? Can you make an art piece, or is there something else that you can do with that [guilt] in the rest of your life.”
Emma Luisser ‘18 is excited for her second art trip because she thinks it will be a bit of a culture shock.
“I hope to accept being out of my comfort zone more and how to adapt and appreciate a totally different way of life,” she said. “I hope it will inspire me to try new things and influence my art in a unique and positive way as well.”
For a variety of reasons, the art trip this year does not have as many male students as Carter would like.
“Everyone who is already enrolled on the trip, if they can get a male student to be accepted and enrolled, they get $100 off their trip,” said Carter. “This trip isn’t full and we didn’t expect it to be full. The maximum we can take is 36. We know the perception is that it will be a harder trip. [People] have until about November.”
Above all, Carter hopes that the people going on the trip will gain a new perspective.
“I want them to see and appreciate a different way of making art and what is considered beautiful and amazing in India is not necessarily what is amazing and beautiful here.”