On Monday, March 18th, my English class and I did one of my favorite things: taking a day to go to Köln and see the Dom, walk on the Rhein, and, most importantly, go to the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and see the exhibit ”Once Upon a Time in America“. The exhibition included over 150 works of art, dating from 1650 to 1950. We were able to walk through a portion of the exhibit, beginning chronologically with the early colonization of America, the American Revolutionary War, and then to the Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny. Seeing these stunning works of art (including some very well-known pieces) demonstrating what we’ve been learning about in English provided an interesting and beautiful way to see history through the eyes of the artists. Our very knowledgeable tour guide pointed out how the style changed over time, evolving from European-inspired portraits to landscapes and scenes that are distinctly American. The Europeans preferred detailed and principled portraits, and the American style became more about the common man: his life, his family, and his country. We were, unfortunately, not permitted to take photos, but I was still able to discover extremely talented and passionate artists: one being, for example, Albert Bierstadt, who grew up in America but returned to his home country of Germany to study art and master his technique in Düsseldorf. There, he painted spectacular and breathtaking landscapes, based on the sketches he made throughout his time in America.
Köln is one of my favorite cities, and being able to see a little bit of my culture and history in Germany was very special. I learned more about both art and American History, and seeing how our English lessons are more than just articles and words on a whiteboard was invaluable.
Kate Canning, exchange student from Texas
Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rosalie (1866)