We came from Northern Italy to Greece to visit our best friends, who were visiting from the United States. We only had a few days overlap in Athens with them—staying in a hotel just a few blocks from the Acropolis. Visiting the Acropolis was something we were all looking forward to experiencing together, and it was indeed an incredible experience to explore with such great company. I tried to uniquely capture that shared experience through my photos—not an easy challenge in probably one of the most photographed places in the world! Having conversations with one another about the structures and context(s) in which we were viewing as we walked made the experience both rich and memorable.
⬆️ Jon and Amanda working to make sense of it all. One thing about the Acropolis site that was really striking to me (aside from the incredible ruins) was the 360 degree view of surrounding Athens—the metro area was strikingly large + dense ⤵️.
The Parthenon was under pretty heavy construction, but it didn’t take away any of the grandeur to see it in person—such an incredible experience!
One thing I kept noticing in Greece (mainly in the city of Athens) were references to what they call the “Evil Eye” (image to the left ⬅️ ) I’m sure there is an element of touristy go-to stuff here, but none-the-less I’m very attracted to the meaning and thinking around the evil eye—it was something that kept coming up for me over and over again—even after we left Greece. Then I realized that without knowing it I had already created a version of my own Evil Eye. I made the above full-width graphic into stickers (image below ⤵️ ) a few years back. I am also reminded of Aesthetic Apparatus’s “Doom Drips” series, which was influential on me when I was in school.
The Panathenaic Stadium is built on the site of the ancient Olympics dating back into the BCE —and—the site of the first officially sanctioned “modern” Olympics in 1896. Long story short, this was a very cool visit (and just look at that engraved type—muah) and an easy walk from the center of Athens. Everything is made of marble and the track (track surface not marble 🙂 is shaped like a paperclip—I suspect any athletes that competed on this track had amazing ankle mobility because of those sharp turns 😅. If you want to read more about the history of this site, I’d recommend visiting the official museum website.
The ancient version of box seats. These are from the re-build in the late 1800’s, but were modeled from the original ancient stadium—we saw ancient seats like this in the public theatre spaces at the Acropolis as well.
Headed to Hyrda after a few great days in Athens—cruising through the other islands on an Alpha Lines ferry.
We stayed in a great spot on the water that was an easy 10 minute walk from the city center—paths down to the water like ⬆️ were common and great for sunset time.
Amanda in her element—gelato in-hand and ocean near. The ferry through Alpha Lines was easy to navigate and affordable. The roof deck on the boat allowed us to ditch our cabin seats and ride on the roof for the whole 1.5-2 hour journey both ways—this was both refreshing and beautiful (bring your sunscreen, people).
the value of new contexts…
When I attended college in West Texas we studied Ancient Greece during my Art History courses. I honestly never thought I’d have a chance to see any of what we looked at in person—my mindset at the time wasn’t capable of allowing it. I suspect it was because my perception of what it meant to “travel” at that time had been very limited (this was the case with the majority of my peers as well). It wasn’t until my undergraduate Graphic Design professor (hi Bob!) suggested I look into the University of Tennessee for graduate school because of their opportunities to work in a letterpress studio. I didn’t know anyone in the state of Tennessee—I did know I really wanted to learn Letterpress. I had no idea what I was doing when I applied, was accepted, and agreed to move. The real weight of my decision (leaving family, friends, etc.) didn’t hit me until about one week before my move because I was so naive. It wasn’t so much the roughly 1,200 miles of distance between cities in Texas and Tennessee that changed my mindset on travel—it was the complete and total destruction and re-construction of my physical and emotional comfort zones that did it. It took a solid 1/2 year of feeling sorry for myself in Tennessee until I started realizing the deep value in the leap I had made. A lot of folks would say moving from Texas to Tennessee isn’t that big of a deal, but at my young age coupled with extreme lack of experience and general ignorance it was a major deal! People in other places do things differently—and there is so much that can be learned from that. I came to understand this through my own process of re-learning how to live and work in a new context—initially in Tennessee, but since in other locations—each move its own unique growth experience—these experiences are generally both difficult and exciting at the same time.
After that move for graduate school, the notion of continuing to build my experience library through travel or taking advantage of great relocation opportunities became essential. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to have had in-person experiences like this trip to Greece. I was inspired by how enthusiastic Athenians we spoke to were about their city and surrounding islands—the cuisine, culture, texture, history, etc…I was also embarrassed to not have the appropriate language skills as an outsider to communicate in Greek, but once again almost everyone we met was bi-lingual (or more). None-the-less, we were made to feel incredibly welcome everywhere we went and encouraged when we did try to speak. This has been the case time and time again as we travel more and now live outside of the United States.
Over the past decade I’ve had conversations with many students contemplating big moves or major life-changing experiences as a design educator. It’s hard for me not to time warp back to that time I left Texas long-term for the first time with zero experience. I usually begin the convo by asking if they can clearly identify the combo of emotions about the upcoming change they feel most often: discomfort coupled with excitement or discomfort coupled with dread? It’s no solution, but generally if the compass is clearly pointed more towards excitement it’s something worth really un-packing.