Art history students traveled to Mexico for alternative spring break

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BLOOMINGTON – Nine students traveled to Valladolid, Mexico through Ivy Tech Bloomington’s Alternative Spring Break program from March 11 to 16. Students on the trip are enrolled in an Ivy Tech art history service-learning course. This is Ivy Tech Bloomington’s first service trip to Valladolid, the seventh international service trip, and the ninth Alternative Spring Break trip overall. In the past, spring break volunteers traveled to Virginia, Central Mexico and Guatemala, and south-central Indiana.

Filiz Cicek, adjunct instructor and artist, taught the course, Survey of Art & Culture II. She also served as assistant trip director while Jerry Hansen III, assistant professor of philosophy and humanities, led the trip to Mexico.

Prior to their trip, students studied Mexican art, history, and culture to prepare them for art analysis. Sean Starowitz, Assistant Director of Economic Development for the Arts in Bloomington, also visited the class to prepare them to understand the role art that plays in the preservation of identity and in the public health and economics of an area.

In Mexico, students took part in a variety of activities to enrich course material including museum visits, conversations with local residents, and walking expeditions to discover public art.

The class visited the Casa de los Venados, or “The House of the Deer,” a restored Spanish colonial mansion that was converted into a museum to house one of the largest collections of Mexican folk art. Students spent the better part of two days exploring the collection and interviewing the patrons, staff, and local school children to understand the role that art plays in the preservation of identity and in the public health and economic system. As part of the museum visit, students also chose specific artifacts to research.

Students also visited the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, and received a guided tour of the local university to learn about its efforts to preserve Mayan culture and rituals. The class met each day to discuss their observations and key issues, including endangered languages and cultures such as Mayan.

Throughout the trip, students kept daily journals and video logs regarding their experiences.

“Upon returning home, students will be involved in a variety of ways to communicate what they have learned and to participate in sharing and promoting the art of the Yucatan region,” said Hansen. “One of the things we are refining right now is to help students to compile videos into a short documentary that introduces key issues. We would then be able to integrate the video into related Ivy Tech courses, and also share the video with secondary schools in the area.”