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.”

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