Art Students Find Synergy in European Study Abroad

In May, UA instructor of photography and digital media Lee Black and students delved deep Sarah Johns and Megan Goldman in the Secession Building, Vienna.into art and the psyche. Black and co-director Dr. Joy Burnham, Professor of Counselor Education, led eleven UA students on a May interim course to Switzerland and Austria titled, “UA in Europe: Finding Meaning – Synergy of Psychology & Art through Mind & Soul.” Describing the course, Burnham said, “This journey into Europe explores the rich history of psychology’s roots while also focusing on art from the same time period.”

UA undergraduate and graduate students in art, psychology, counseling, speech and hearing, New College and business did assigned readings, research, art projects and writing, focusing on the theories of Freud, Adler, Jung and Frankl, leaders in the new field of psychology, and their contemporaries in art, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Black and Burnham led their students through museums and historic sites in the two countries and taught courses in digital media and counselor education. In art museums in Vienna, Zurich and Basel, the group viewed works by major artists such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele who were influenced by the new psychological ideas. They also visited sites such as the burial places of Beethoven and Mozart and toured the Mauthausen concentration camp.

Art instructor Lee Black monitors student Courtney Potts' work in digital media during study abroad, May, 2016.One of the highlights of the trip was their visit to the Jung Institute, once the home of Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, just outside of Zurich. There they attended a private lecture and were invited into Jung’s study where they met his grandson, who lives there now. Lee Black said she was inspired to be in the place where Jung studied and came up with his influential ideas about the human mind. “I was standing next to his desk where he wrote the Red Book [in which he developed his principal theories of the psyche],” she added, “He had books that were 400 to 500 years old in his library…it was profound.”

New College senior SARAH JOHNS is working on her depth study in art therapy, which, she explains, “combines art and psychology – so this study abroad program was perfect for me!” Although apprehensive about traveling overseas, Johns’ favorite experience turned out to be an unexpected ride up Mount Pilatus in Lucerne, Switzerland (6,982 feet above sea level). She added, “At the very least, I think I grew in terms of my confidence in my ability to operate independently.”

UA students in Vienna, May, 2016, with the Dean of the College of Education at UASenior BFA major in digital media and photography ALEX GREEN (who minors in art history) said that one of the best things about the trip was being able to see art works in person. “I’d never seen any major artists before this,” he said. His most memorable pieces were by Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Claude Monet in the Kunsthaus in Zurich and sculpture by Donald Judd in the Kunstmuseum in Basel. After the group trip, Green was able to stay on a few days and travel to Berlin, where he got to see the famous bust of Nefertiti at the Neues Museum. When he returned to Alabama, he took Art After World War II (ARH 381) with Tom Wegrzynowski during the summer semester (“I loved that class!”) and said that he reabsorbed much of what he had learned in Europe in a different way.

When asked how this trip has affected him, Green expressed well the “synergy” of the experience of travel: “Honestly, my perspective on life has changed by being immersed in another culture.”Instructor Lee Black in the Leopold Museum in Vienna, May, 2016.

Burnham and Black are working with UA Study Abroad to take another group of students in May of 2017. To find out more about this and other UA study abroad programs, check the Study Abroad “Start” page on the UA Study Abroad website or email

Photo captions, top to bottom:

1. Sarah Johns and Megan Goldman in the Secession Building, Vienna. Photo by Lee Black.
2. Lee Black teaches Courtney Potts’ a tutorial in Photoshop during their trip. Photo by Joy Burnham.
3. UA students in Vienna, May, 2016, with Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, Dean of the College of Education at UA. Photo courtesy of Lee Black.
4. Instructor Lee Black in the Leopold Museum in Vienna. Photo courtesy of Lee Black.

[The Loupe, Fall 2016]