LACOSTE, France — Savannah College of Art and Design’s residential study-abroad program in Lacoste, France has been a popular destination for students since 2002. SCAD-Lacoste has had many majors come to the campus, including painting, sculpting, printmaking, drawing and more. In fall 2011, Lacoste welcomed another group of artists: writers.
Over the last few quarters, students and professors in the writing program have shown an immense interest in bringing the program overseas.
Lauren Schlottman, a fourth-year writing major said, “It was important to me because writing needed a chance to expand. Lacoste is a great opportunity for writers to experience and write about a new culture.”
Schlottman was part of a larger number of students who expressed interest in bringing the program to Lacoste. Some, Shlottman added, even wrote recommendation reports asking for the writing program to go to Lacoste.
Lacoste lies in the Provencal area, a region known for luring many famous artists. An inspiration to writers and poets such as Samuel Beckett, Petrarch and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lacoste is the perfect place for writers. A few of the classes this quarter include: French Literature, Writing in Provence, Writing about Place, News Writing and Editing, Poetry and Treasures in Provence. It has been easy to adapt classes for the writing program, the vernissage — SCAD-Lacoste’s art exhibition at the end of the quarter — is a different story.
SCAD Lacoste is predominantly known for producing visual images, but this fall, the writing department strives to change this. Professors and students are collaborating in ways to make this quarter’s vernissage open to a broader form of art.
“All professors are excited and interested in incorporating text in various ways,” said professor Carl Parrish, a teacher at SCAD-Atlanta for the past six years and who is also teaching French Literature, Writing in Provence and Poetry in Lacoste. Parrish mentions that, “It is really up to the students to work together and brainstorm ideas.” With the help of the photography students, also in Lacoste this quarter, there are plenty of opportunities for collaboration.
Robert Eisinger, dean of the School of Liberal Arts seems to agree. “We are excited about integrating writing into other disciplines, such as photography,” he said. “We are eager to recognize that writing is a growing major at SCAD, and that there are wonderful writing opportunities at and near SCAD’s Lacoste campus.”
Parrish said he has already come up with a few creative ideas for writing students interested in submissions for the vernissage. “Having a poetry reading during the vernissage would be nice. The SCAD professors have considered recruiting English high school teachers in the area and using them to translate some of the student’s poetry into French,” Parrish said. Because the main audience for the vernissage will be the local French community, Parrish agrees that this approach would create a wider appeal and it would encourage the locals to respond to what the students have done with writing.
“Another idea is to tape record the poetry and have it looped and played while people look at the photographs,” he said. “Looking at the visual text interferes with looking at the image.” Regardless of which route the students choose, this year’s vernissage will be one of the school’s most interesting and different. The art exhibition has yet to include much emphasis on text.
Even with all the excitement surrounding the vernissage, students are still adjusting to the idea of doing what they love most in such a beautiful place. Anna Geannopoulos, a fourth-year writing major said, “It’s great to get away from a city and just have the peace and tranquility to write without distractions. I love it here.”
Lacoste’s quiet cobblestone streets offer students lots of downtime to relax and take in a new, less stressful environment. Students like Geannopoulos have had the chance to really focus on their writing and schoolwork thanks to the town’s tranquility.Contact Claire Clayton.