MIAD Students Studying in Ireland – Critical Cartography: The Art of Place Making

September 12, 2016

MIAD’s summer study abroad programs offer rich, potentially transformational learning opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our art and design students.

This past May, thirteen MIAD students and two MIAD faculty went to the West Coast of Ireland for the course Critical Cartography: The Art of Place Making. We spent three weeks exploring the magical Burren, in County Clare near the village of Ballyvaughan. By hiking the inspiring landscape and conversing with local experts, students learned of the unique ecosystem of the Burren, its rich, thousands-of-years history of human habitation, its geological transformations over eons, and how people in the community continue to survive and thrive while sustaining the delicate ecology of this unique place.

Aideen and the lambAn overnight trip to the Aran Islands introduced the group to the rugged island terrain, a place where the Gaelic language is still spoken among the inhabitants. Our adventures also took us to the National University of Ireland (NUI) – Galway for a lecture on the ways Ireland has been understood and represented in maps across the centuries. This included an orientation to the ways that artists are making new kinds of maps that capture the histories and memories of people overlooked in traditional maps. There was also a visit to the university archives, where we looked at the sketches and journals of artist/mapmaker Tim Robinson, renowned for his maps of Connemara, the Aran Islands, and the Burren. Of course, we spent some time exploring the vibrant city of Galway, too! Back in Ballyvaughan, students received a warm welcome from accomplished artist Richard Hearns, who invited them into his studios and shared his passion for painting in the Burren along with his insight into building a successful career.

Students’ home base for all of this was the Burren College of Art, a gem of a school built around a 16th century castle. MIAD has been taking students to study here since 1995. Students worked in bright airy studios and lived in a lodge overlooking green pastures and stony Cappawalla Mountain.

During this three week program, students took their experiences and transformed them creatively, sharing their art/design explorations with the community in an exhibition at the Burren College of Art. Since returning to the US, they have continued to reflect and refine their work. An opening reception of exhibited work will be shared with the MIAD community 5:30 – 7:30 PM, Thursday. September 8. If you live in the area, please join us for the celebration!

If you can’t make it, I hope you will share a glimpse of our adventures from our Facebook page: MIAD Ireland Study Abroad / Summer 2016 https://www.facebook.com/MIAD-Ireland-Study-Abroad-Summer-2016-1054144711263457/


Courtney Maloney, MIAD Associate Professor of Writing

Robert Lynch, MIAD Professor of Interior Architecture + Design

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