Boxes labeled Germany, England, Denmark, Syria, Morocco, Bulgaria, Singapore and other destinations line the bookshelves of UNCP Art Department Chair Janette Hopper.
On this morning, Professor Hopper is looking for slides of Florence, Italy, her next travel destination. The well-traveled artist will lead a group from UNC Pembroke to study, sketch and paint for six weeks this summer in the midst of the finest art and architecture that Renaissance Italy has to offer.
In a land far away in another time in history, UNCP art Prof. John Labadie will lead a group into the mountains of Guatemala for a 15-day visit to the ancient Mayan cities of Tikal, Quirigua and others. Dr. Labadie has traveled many times to these remote sites to sketch and document recovered archaeological artifacts.
Florence and Tikal are centers of artistic, cultural and historical activities, although separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years. Profs. Hopper and Labadie are eager to return and to share their treasures.
These are the Art Department's first sponsored tours abroad. Both tours are open to students and art lovers willing to enroll for one or more hours of credit.
The Mayan Tour is June 3-18, open to 14 or more travelers at a base cost of $2,299.
Headquartered in Florence and affiliated with a tour company that specializes in higher education, The Florence tour is May 26-June 24. The base cost is $3,795. (A per credit-hour cost and some other fees are additional.)
A minimum of one hour of academic credit is earned on both tours, and, on the Renaissance tour, a maximum of six hours may be earned in art history, drawing and painting. Lectures, guided tours and instruction are part of both tours.
Dr. Labadie's group will tour various archeological ruins and hear lectures at the University of Guatemala Del Valle and in museums and cultural centers of Guatemala City and other locations throughout the nation. Participants are promised rare glimpses into he lives of the indigenous people of Guatemala and exposure to the modern Mayan culture, art and food.
Hopper's group will make trips to from their base in Florence to Rome, Venice, Pisa, Siena and other cities for tours, lectures and creating art.
The travel program fits nicely into UNC Pembroke's larger goal of "internationalizing" its campus, but for artists, there is more at stake.
"This will be the trip of a lifetime for us," said Hopper. "To view art and architecture that you have studied and seen in books is an essential part of the artist's learning experience."
Or, as Dr. Labadie said, "There is nothing like being on site where fascinating cultural activities unfold each day. Walking through spectacular Mayan ruins with their ancient ballcourts and huge temples or experiencing the wonders of market day in the highlands will forever be etched in the memories of UNCP travelers."
Their mission is to get their protégés into the game.
"What better place to start a program than in Italy and Central American, the birthplace of modern art and the pinnacle of art in the ancient world of the Americas," Dr. Labadie said.
"It's an exciting to have actual experiential learning as part of our curriculum," Hopper said. "By doing this, we are able to better prepare our students for their own future in art."
The welcome mat is out.
"Everyone is welcome to join us whether you are a student pursuing a degree, or you would like a guided tour of the greatest art produced by two very different civilizations," she said.