Visits to New York City Art Museums Inspire NWU Students

Sophomore Morgan McKinley tours the Brucennial.
NWU students spent spring break in New York City where they toured art museums and galleries.
NWU art professor David Gracie talks with NWU students at Whitney Museum.
NWU art professor Justin Shaw and student Gwendolyn Lopez tour the Brucennial.
First year student Megan Maslonka relaxes at a New York City sculpture museum.

If you want to be an artist, you have to spend time in New York City, says Nebraska Wesleyan University art professor David Gracie.

It’s where he is spending a year-long sabbatical painting and designing a new course on alternative artistic practices.

It’s an experience so inspiring that he wanted to share it with his students too.

“You can not make art in a bubble,” he said. “The students will feed off of this trip for the rest of their time at Nebraska Wesleyan.”

Members of the Art Club and other NWU art professors joined Gracie in New York City over spring break in March for an eye-opening opportunity to visit some of the best museums: Metropolitan Art Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and Brooklyn College.

Each year, Art Club members travel to Minneapolis in the fall and Chicago in the spring to immerse themselves in artistic cultures not found in Nebraska. Foregoing that tradition and meeting up with Gracie in New York City provided new opportunities.

“There is more art to see in New York City than both Chicago and Minneapolis many times over,” said Gracie. “The experience of being thrown in the middle of what the students have studied from afar is the most important thing. The opportunity to see the most advanced work being made today by so many diverse voices from around the world can only be done in New York.”

For aspiring artist Tim Brawner of Omaha, the experience gave him an early look at his future.

“I benefitted not only by seeing what is still the art capital of the world, but from navigating and experiencing the city I’ll most likely be inhabiting if I intend to make a serious go of being a painter,” he said.

Senior biology and chemistry major Rebeca Chavez joined the trip to expand her appreciation for art.

“I have always wanted to further my knowledge in art,” she said. “This was a great opportunity that I could not let pass.”

In addition to the museums and galleries, Gracie made sure the students experienced the usual tourist attractions as well including Times Square, Central Park, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Empire State Building.

Art Club president and NWU senior Natasia Otto-Bergland of Pierce returned to campus inspired.

“I came back with a ton of notes on artists to research, ideas and techniques to look into and quite a few ideas for how to improve upcoming projects,” she said. “New York is still one of the biggest and most influential cities for the art world. One could spend weeks going to all of the different museums and galleries, and probably still not see everything. When it comes down to it, I am really grateful for this experience.”