Make The Connection

Travel-Learning Course, ‘Chemistry and Art’

July 30, 2014 – by Katie Nunner '15

Learn how OWU’s Course Connections, Travel-Learning Courses, Theory-to-Practice Grants, and other programs prepare students for global citizenship and leadership and help them…Make the Connection.

Ohio Wesleyan students visited Italy in May as part of a ‘Chemistry and Art’ Travel-Learning Course. During the trip, students learned how chemistry plays a vital role in the creation, preservation, restoration, destruction, forgery detection, and analysis of the many works of art throughout Italy. (Photo by Jessica Demes ’16)

Rebekah Mahoney ’16

Name: Rebekah Mahoney ’16
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Spanish
Hometown: Metamora, Michigan
Experience: “Chemistry and Art,” May 2014

Lessons Learned: “Our main focus in the course was to learn and understand the connection between chemistry and art restoration and deterioration. I was amazed at how various chemical techniques, many which relate to our studies at OWU, can restore the astonishing works of revered artists throughout history.

“Our group was able to experience first-hand the ‘cleaning and fixing up’ of an art piece in a restoration lab, and from there I could see not only the passion of the restorers but also the passion behind the artists of the paintings themselves. The dedication was visible to me upon viewing Botticelli’s Primavera, Michelangelo’s David, and countless other works.

“What I have learned is that passion and doing what you love will take you far in life and will impact those beyond your lifetime.”

Crissandra Digges ’15

Name: Crissandra Digges ’15
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Chillicothe, Ohio
Experience: “Chemistry and Art,” May 2014

Lessons Learned: “I learned that no matter what the language one speaks, the language of science is universal.

“An experience like this matters because, for me, it was filled with a lot of firsts. At the age of 21, I took my first airplane ride, traveled by train, and left the U.S. to experience a new country with a different culture.

“For me, this experience has opened my eyes even more to the world around me and has inspired me to want to travel more. If [not] for the OWU Travel-Learning Courses, I couldn’t have afforded to travel to a different country for two weeks.

“Another great thing about traveling through an OWU course is that one gets to see and experience behind-the-scenes research and restoration. For example, thanks to Dr. [Katie] Hervert, now Dr. Thomas, we got to tour the Fortezza da Basso labs and the Vatican labs that are not open to tourists. It was amazing to be in these labs and inches away from masterpieces by Jackson Pollock and Leonardo da Vinci.

“Overall the Travel-Learning Courses are experiences that are worthwhile, memorable, and unique to the college experience. I have shared what Travel-Learning Courses are with friends from high school, and they wish that their college had these opportunities extended to them.”

Jessica Demes ’16

Name: Jessica Demes ’16
Majors: Pre-Medicine and Genetics
Minors: Chemistry and Spanish
Hometown: Oswego, Illinois
Experience: “Chemistry and Art,” May 2014

Lessons Learned: “I learned how chemistry plays an important role in understanding the destruction, restoration, and preservation of the works of art throughout Italy. Dr. [Katie] Thomas and Dr. [Heather] Grunkemeyer were awesome and helped to make the experience even more memorable!

“An experience like this gives busy students the chance to experience a new culture and see how the information we learn in school is used in a practical real-world setting. I never expected to learn so much about traveling and experiencing new cultures while also being able to gain so much confidence in myself!”

During their trip to Italy, Ohio Wesleyan students visited the Vatican labs, typically not open to the public, as they learned real-world applications of chemistry is restoring art, determining authenticity, and more. The student also saw Pope Francis while in Vatican City. (Photo by Crissandra Digges ’15)