The SUNY Madrid Summer Studio Art Program, first offered this summer, allows SUNY Oswego art students to immerse themselves in the art culture of Madrid while earning credit toward their degrees.

SUNY Oswego art professor Juan Perdiguero helped create and supervise the inaugural program this summer.

“It’s a new program,” Perdiguero said. “It is a summer program where art students go to the city of Madrid, and they take classes in drawing, painting and art history.”

While the program is taught through SUNY Oswego, it is run in collaboration with a local university in Madrid, and is open to students from other institutions in the SUNY system, Perdiguero said.

“It’s a collaboration with another university, in Madrid, called Rey Juan Carlos University, and students from the [entirety of the] SUNY system apply to the program; they go to Madrid, and in Madrid, they work with Spanish students from the university,” Perdiguero said.

The new program seeks to follow the opportunities offered by other schools across the U.S. and Europe, where students are able to earn credits for their degree while experiencing their area of study in another country.

“There are many universities across the U.S. and Europe that have summer programs somewhere else – in a different country or a different city, so the idea is to expose the students to the culture, the history and the art of Spain,” Perdiguero said.

The program features two parts, studio art and art history, which are each worth three credits, allowing students to earn six total credits over the program’s four-week span.

Claire Leone, a senior at SUNY Oswego, said that the course appealed due to the amount of credits offered, and its distinctive opportunities among other popular study abroad programs.

“I’m graduating early, so I needed to take credits over the summer anyway, so why not take a study abroad course?” Leone said, adding that hearing good things about the study-abroad programs helped.

Unique approach

In addition to allowing students to take classes in a different country, the classes are unique in their approach, Perdiguero said.

“The painting and drawing class is an outside class,” Perdiguero said. “The students go around the city of Madrid to a different location every day, and they work from life. It can be landscape or architectural drawings, so they get to experience the different neighborhoods of the city, and they get to draw it.”

 The art history section of the program allows students a similar hands-on experience.

“In the art history class, they go to all the museums, and they visit the monuments, and there they are taught about the history, the art and culture of the different locations they visit,” Perdiguero said.

While located primarily in Madrid, the program also allows students to learn in other cities and focuses on providing students with a comprehensive experience of Spain.

“They do that in Madrid once a week, and then another day of the week, they have a day trip to a different Spanish city where they do the same thing,” Perdiguero said. “They are totally immersed in the culture.”

Though this summer’s iteration of the program was its first, the program was especially popular, and Perdiguero sees room for growth in the future.

“The first year was very successful, we had 24 applicants, and we took 12,” Perdiguero said. 

“I was really surprised,” Perdiguero said. “The program really took off right away, and we did a lot of promotion across other SUNY campuses.”

Perdiguero hopes that in the following years, more students will be able to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

“There is potential to grow; we’d like to take more students, and we could run different sections,” Perdiguero said. “ I was thinking about including a travel photography class, and there is potential for many different things, but we are just testing the ground this first year.”

Overall, Perdiguero said, the program is likely an attractive opportunity offered by SUNY Oswego due to the importance of Spain’s culture and art history.

“I think Europe is a very attractive place for American universities to send students, and Spain is a very unique place, because of its location in Europe,” Perdiguero said. “It has been the crossroads of many different cultures.” 

Leone said the course not only taught art in a technical and aesthetic sense but its connections to culture.

“It was my first study abroad [program], and I got a much broader perspective on how to approach art from cultural awareness, and not just as aesthetics,” Leone said.

Outside the course’s academic offerings, Leone said, was the opportunity to learn more independently than regular courses, and do so in a new setting.

“I learned a lot of life skills, like how to travel [around Madrid] by myself,” Leone said.

Perdiguero hopes that SUNY Oswego students take advantage of the program and other international education courses like it.

“They have the opportunity to go to many different places,” Perdiguero said.

For more information on Oswego’s study-abroad programs, visit the university’s Education Abroad website.

-- Written by Ethan Semeraro of the Class of 2023