Dialogue Europe

Enveloped by Art

Story by Illeana Cortessi

I inherited my father’s love of art.  As a young child, I remember being dragged with my brother and sister to museum after museum, to art galleries and to architectural masterpieces. After my first dialogue in Italy where I studied family business, I decided to do something completely different next. As I searched through the available global opportunities, the Art and Architecture dialogue in Barcelona and Madrid caught my eye.

After a summer session in Boston studying accounting and marketing, I was ready for a change in academics and of scenery. We left Boston on a hot Sunday morning and a few hours later were in one of the most beautiful and picturesque countries of Europe. I left my luggage in the hostel and walked right outside down the Passeig de Gracia, the most famous street of Barcelona. The weather was perfect, the people loud and happy, I could see all my favorite stores on the left and the right; I was in paradise. And then I stopped. In front of me was the Casa Battlo, a house I had admired in pictures. Only up close could I really value how fascinating it is. Its details, its colors, and its wavy structure made it breathtakingly perfect. It is virtually an art piece dropped in the middle of a row of homes. A bit further up was the Casa Mila, much bigger than Casa Battlo, similar in its wavy like structure, but with subtler colors.  Gaudi, the architect of both these homes, added tremendous value to the city of Barcelona by enhancing the homes built next to his. His buildings are gems throughout the city and make it not only a beautiful city, but a special one.

Throughout our stay in Barcelona, we saw La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, which are additional Gaudi masterpieces. Even though I’m not deeply religious, walking into La Sagrada Familia still felt utterly sacred and peaceful. Its massive size and beautiful details make this Church iconic.  We were accompanied by staff from Northeastern that have studied the life and art techniques of Gaudi, and their ability to answer any and all my questions made Gaudi’s work even more impressive, adding bits and pieces of information that I wouldn’t have known just by looking up at the Church’s ceiling.  As I was guided throughout the Church, I couldn’t help by feel reminded of the times that I would visit museums with my father, who had always studied the artworks beforehand. Our last stop to admire was Park Guell.  The long hike and heat had made us parched and exhausted, but the sight was worth it. Standing on the highest point of the park, with a terrace like a colorful bench, we could see a panoramic view of the park. The colors of the lizard statue at the entrance make it the most distinctive sculpture I’ve ever seen.

Going on that trip with an architecture professor and teacher’s assistants that were studying art and architecture was influential. They were very helpful as they had the answers to almost everything I could ask regarding the architecture and art of Spain. We learned so much about the life and art of Miro, Picasso, Dali and Gaudi. Having them by our sides throughout the trip and witnessing the art and architecture up-close and personal, further enhanced the whole experience. This adventure made me appreciate  the love for art that my father had transferred to me, and allowed me to dive into the study of art as an individual.


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