In January, fifteen Moore students enjoyed 12 days in Granada, Spain, as part of their Cultural Immersion class, taught by Dr. Kelly Kirby, Liberal Arts department chair, who traveled with the students.
The group from Moore toured Granada, a southern city in the Andalusia region, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Courtney Warren, a junior Curatorial Studies student, documented the trip. This is the fifth dispatch in a series.
By Courtney Warren '21
On Day 8, we visited a hammam, an Arab-style bath with different temperature pools to relax in while waiting for a massage. Having cold water spark against warm skin fresh out of warmer depths felt extravagant, as did the almond oil massage we all received.
I think the most valuable part of the experience wasn’t actually the bath itself but the conversation I had afterward with Curatorial Studies major Deanna Emmons '20.
"Not to be all curatorial, but I can't help but think about care after that," she said.
Her upcoming thesis project is examining care and the body, and together we had participated in the Levels of Care project facilitated in Curatorial Studio. Arab baths were public and came from the public Greek and Roman bath houses. Earlier in our trip we saw the remains of one of the most-preserved hammam baths that had turned into a public clothes washing area. We chatted about how these entities that cared for the inhabitants of the city were public and gave access to clean clothes and clean bodies. It reconnected us to the Levels of Care project where we talked about care at different points, the individual, interpersonal and societal. It was enriching, not because I got to have a luxurious time in a spa, but because it dug me deeper into ideas of culture and care that I'm already thinking about as a curator.
The essay I wrote to get into the Curatorial Studies program at Moore was about the temple from the South Asian Galleries in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The prompt was to write about our favorite piece in the museum. The temple is still one of my favorites for reasons that have shifted since taking History of Curating and the Art of India. One thing that hasn't changed is my experience of it. Through time and space we can share experiences with people who have never met us, we can touch the same pillars that someone thousands of years ago carved, that someone might have hidden behind to scare someone else, or used to get a moment alone. That experience of history, of recognizing the humanity of all people, the people before us, is why I decided to study curatorial studies. Cultural experiences remind us of each other and human experience.
The day's hike was refreshing for me, because it reminded me of that reason. Very early on our guide pointed to the stream that flowed next to the path and told us how the Romans had navigated these same mountains and engineered aqueducts that slowed the pace of the river. Trekking next to the peaks of hills, basking in that day’s sun, or passing a waterfall that directed water to the river flowing below, I wondered who had been there first. Is this what the Romans saw when they came through thousands of years ago? Had the Muslim people after them seen these same views, too? Did they feel the smile of the sun on them in this same spot as me?
We followed our guide on a concrete path, and when rocks jutted over the edge, there were handles in the rock to hold onto. We held ourselves over a drop into cold water and river rocks. Someone had been there before; they had done this, too. Someone had been there before and made it easier for the people after them to come through, too. The hike was challenging, but it was worth it to connect with an experience that reminds me of why I am where I am, and gives me a goal to work toward when I’m creating experiences.