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Bringing Ireland home - UWF students exhibit "The Irish Experience Exhibition"

September 24, 2019 | Nicholas Croghan, UWF Art Instructor and Pensacola Museum of Art Director |

"My Traveling Suitcase," by Marissa Agerton is on exhibition as part of "The Irish Experience Exhibition."

The Art Gallery at the University of West Florida is pleased to present The Irish Experience Exhibition, which is on display at The Art Gallery at UWF through September 28.

This summer, UWF art students participated in a four-week summer study abroad course in Carlow, Ireland. Through the experiential learning, students produced works of art, which represent various media. The students’ exhibited work includes mixed-media, watercolor paintings, photography and copper-point drawings that were inspired by these travels and finished in the studio upon return.

Seventeen UWF students, which also included eight students from the UWF Department of Music and four from the UWF Department of Theatre made basecamp at Carlow College in Carlow, Ireland. From this jumping-off point, they traversed the Irish countryside from Dublin to Galway and were introduced to diverse regions where physical geographies merged with unique cultures and mythic spaces. The students and instructors from art, music and theatre toured castles, cathedrals, museums, historic sites, ruins, a famine ship, sea cliffs and mountains. Additionally, students had the opportunity to study Irish history, art history, language, and music at Carlow College.

"I aspire to capture moments of wonder and beauty so they felt, at least a little, through a still photograph in time," said participant Rachel Oliver.

The art students also had masterclasses with Irish art professionals. These classes included a photo-etching printmaking workshop with Mary Cullen- Kelly and a studio visit and limited-palette painting workshop with Jacinta Crowley-Long.

In the statements provided below, the art students have expressed their individual experiences of Ireland. The students from the summer 2019 course include Marissa Agerton, Gabriella Gong, Lindsey Hampton, Rachel Oliver, and Rebecca Riggs. Accompanying the student work are pieces by instructor Nicholas Croghan. The Department of Art students were given the chance to practice their craft and challenge themselves in ways not possible without visiting new environments. This was a life-changing opportunity for which we are all extremely grateful.

As the instructor invited to guide the Department of Art students, I would like to personally express a sincere thanks to the program director Charles Houghton, Dr. Sheila Dunn, Blake Riley, Catherine Ryan, Jacinta Crowley-Long, and Mary Cullen-Kelly for this amazing chance to represent UWF and help all the students involved fulfill their passion and realize their potential. The relationships cultivated with these students and colleagues will facilitate mutual creative growth and partnerships between each department and throughout our lives.

Irish Experience Instructor and Pensacola Museum of Art Director, Nicholas Croghan

Here’s what students had to say about their experiences:

Alex Gong:

"My time in Ireland consisted of adventure after adventure: losing my phone on a train, meeting a group of children on a ferry, being drenched on top of a mountain… I want to share the feelings that I had standing in any given spot and looking around me, and realizing that I was in the middle of something special.”

Rebecca Riggs:

“I was enraptured by the sense elements perceived while in Ireland. I was particularly infatuated with the stained glass windows visible in the Catholic churches of Ireland and combined the natural elements that I saw there. My aim was to combine that which is sacred in society to that which is sacred to nature.”

Rachel Oliver:

“I work with digital photography to document the beauty of the world and the vastness of its scale. Ireland has a rich and diverse landscape that can overwhelm and invigorate all at once. I aspire to capture moments of wonder and beauty so they felt, at least a little, through a still photograph in time."

Lindsey Hampton:

"The purpose of this collection of work is to share the moments I pressed pause and held on a little longer than the rest. Having the time to roam and be present in the current moment has been a huge lesson for me. This work is a reminder to be present and enjoy your surrounding even if they appear 'ordinary.'"

Marissa Agerton:

"As a student, I enjoy the ability to experiment with new mediums and themes which offer a broader view of my artistic palette. From drawings and paintings to even prints I attempted to capture the essence of Irish culture as I perceived it. While the primary focus of my work encompasses animal skulls the other subjects that I have incorporated try to exhibit the characteristic beauty of Ireland both past and present."

Visit "The Irish Experience" at The Art Gallery at UWF.

To share in the experience, visit The Art Gallery located on the UWF Pensacola Campus in The Center for Fine and Performing Arts, Building 82, The Irish Experience Exhibition will be present until Sept. 28th. This Art Gallery is open to the public Tues - Fri: 10 AM-4 PM; Saturday: 12 PM-4 PM. For more information visit our website,, or contact Haley Lauw, Gallery Director, at or 850.474.2696.