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USD Students Travel to New York City for Annual Art Experience

The group of art students and Dean Larry Schou in New York City. Art students gather in the studio of Hilary Harkness in New York City.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Twelve students from the University of South Dakota spent Nov. 6-9 in New York City to take part in the annual donor-funded Art Majors Trip to New York City.

Upper-level students from the USD College of Fine Arts joined USD alumnus and avid art collector John Thomson in New York City for a mixture of interactive studio visits, interviews with popular artists, walking tours of the city and visits to local art museums. They also met Tom and Nancy Gallagher whose generosity, in addition to Thomson’s, make this trip of a lifetime possible.

“This experience is the opportunity of a lifetime for art majors at USD,” said Larry Schou, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “That I know of, there is no other student art trip like this in the nation. Students get to interact one-on-one with famous and successful artists in their studios, and they get a behind-the-scenes look at the art world in a very intimate setting with experts in their field.”

The group spent four days visiting more than 15 studios of artists who have diverse backgrounds and specialize in painting, sculpture and design. They also toured the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met).

“Going to the MET and the MOMA for the first time was an experience I cannot put into words,” said Abigail Wienk, a senior in the photography program. “I’ve never walked into a room and gotten full-body goosebumps before. I will never forget that moment. This opportunity was truly life-changing.”

Highlights of the event included a visit to Thomson’s home to view his renowned collection of art, a presentation by Phong Bui, artist, curator and Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Rail; dinner with Peter Drake, artist and dean of Academic Affairs at the New York Academy of Art; and a visit with painter Naudline Pierre. The group also visited the studios of Julie Wachtel, Eric Doeringer, Hilary Harkness, Matvey Levenstein, Mel Kendrick, Ross Knight, Keltie Ferris, Chris Martin, Danica Lunday, Marcelo Daldoce and Adam Lupton.

“This trip has revitalized me, it inspired me, but most importantly, it showed me what could be if I chose to not give up and follow my passion,” Ethan Tasa, a third-year painting student, said. “For this I am thankful to everyone who made this trip possible. I’ll remember it forever.”


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News