A glimpse of Krakow
Lecturer at Graphics department of State Academy of Fine Arts of Armenia, Zackar Demirtshyan recently participated in Erasmus+ programme delivering one-week lecturing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow after J. Matejko, Poland.
The duration of above-stated programme was 3 years (2019-2021) that was unfortunately accompanied with the period of pandemic which was undoubtedly an obstacle for actualizing real mobilities. Nevertheless due to the efforts of International Relations staff it was postponed to a more conducive period. It should be noted as well that IRO also managed to actualize student mobility and at the moment one of SAFAA students from BA Graphics department is in the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow after J. Matejko within the exchange programme.
Earlier this year, one teacher from the mentioned institution was at SAFAA for lecturing purposes again within Erasmus+ ICM.
Below you can read the details of the interview of Zackar Demirtshyan to the head of International Relations, Mary Patvakanyan about what he managed to observe at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow after J. Matejko, Poland.
Firstly Zackar thanked the Academy, namely the International Office as far as “due to its efforts and activities I was given such an opportunity to participate in the programme and be a guest lecturer at another art institution abroad”.
“I find it very important this kind of mobilities for not only students but also for teachers. In this sense, it was an interesting and important experience for me. Generally I think it’s of utmost importance for the students and teachers of the given institution to observe what’s going on in other countries in terms of education and to draw parallels between local and international experiences.
I returned with very positive impressions; Krakow is an awesome country with fairytale, medieval architecture.
The Academy of Krakow is quite a big institution with almost three thousand students. The faculties and departments are located in different buildings; the main building founded in 1818 includes only the departments of Painting and Sculpture.
Graphics department is in a separate building with 5-6 studios at its disposal, laboratories of various easel graphic techniques, stone, metal, wood. They have technically and materially very well equipped laboratories. Our institution unfortunately lacks this variety and we carry out all of this in one laboratory. Actually we can state that both of our institutions have the same number of students yearly for this specialty but they have a separate building enriched with laboratories and studios and that is their advantage.
It was very interesting to observe all of this.”
As regards to teaching methods, Zackar noted the following, “Teaching methods are basically the same, although I can outline that the students in Poland are given much more freedom and that freedom is given by teachers themselves; to think and work freely. I conducted a workshop on monotype with local students. There was a huge difference also in terms of students’ approach to the classes.”
Guest scholars usually notice that the teaching at SAFAA is academically based. Was there something like that, what did you notice?
“Yes, there is such a difference… Here let me draw parallels between the institutions in Marseille where I studied as an exchange student for one year, and Krakow where I conducted one-week lecture, and SAFAA where I currently teach”. The teaching methods were completely different in Marseille in comparison with Krakow, where the academic approach had preserved. As regards to SAFAA I can definitely say that drawing and painting are taught more thoroughly here. I think it’s because of the influence of the West that is more noticeable in Poland and there are much more things that simply hadn’t preserved in comparison with us.
This is my first experience as a lecturer which is a very valuable one for me as I already mentioned. The Knowledge of English language played a crucial role as far as the teaching process and instructions and the discussions with teaching or administrative staff were completely in English. 90 percent of Polish people were fluent in English as far as I managed to notice.
The students participated in the classes with big enthusiasm and the fear that we had earlier together with local teachers over the possible lack of interest among students vanished. Moreover, it turned out that the number of those interested in the workshop was bigger than we could have imagined but due to the pandemic situation and health issues the hosting institution was to limit them. The students were very perceptive to the assignments; as soon as they were given a task they immediately took to its accomplishment. I chose monotype as the topic of workshop; one of the oldest techniques of graphic art. The theme was chosen on purpose owing to the rich history and traditions of armor makers Poland is famous for. Respectively armor makers were the first to start monotype printing to preserve the image and design of the weapon or armor they made. It is noteworthy that students in Poland hadn’t done any monotype printing before even though they had such well-equipped laboratories.
Monotype printing is much closer with its nature to painting rather than anything else as far as it is made spontaneously and in one original, so the material used here is of utmost importance. Students were very excited to learn all of this; it was really interesting to them. Later when they hung their works to dry, it looked like a small exhibition opened in the laboratory.
In conclusion I can state I will be very delighted for such kind of experiences to be continuous for teachers. Such an exchange of experience is of utmost importance.”
Each employee of International Relations department puts every effort to ensure the acquisition of mobility and exchange projects for upcoming years. It should be noted that the Academy hadn’t got any teacher mobility project before and it was obtained and put into action only a few years ago thanks to the efforts and negotiations conducted by International Relations staff. The latter clearly realizes the importance of the project which enriches both professionally and spiritually. It is necessary both in terms of recognition, experience and observing new methods beyond national frameworks and practice the foreign language in the process of teaching, as well as recognition of socio-economic, political and cultural peculiarities of the foreign country that further leads to the formation of teacher-creator as an individuality.
Zackar Demirchyan also mentioned about the discussions he had with the Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow after J. Matejko who was of very good opinion about our country and our institution. “During our talk I raised a question that it would be great if we could organize mutual exhibitions alongside with exchange in order to give a larger audience the possibility of revealing new artists both local and international. The Academy of Krakow has a large gallery and it will be a great honor for every artist to be exhibited there”.
The interview ended with hope and consistency on agreeing upon the topic and content of the future exhibition.
International Relations department
Interviewer – Mary Patvakanyan
Edited and translated by Naira Stepanyan
Photos from Zackar Demirtshyan’s FB page