At the beginning of our study abroad trip, we were introduced to Alfrons Mucha, a very famous artist from the Czech Republic. The first time we viewed his artwork, we visited the Obechi Dum to look at a special exhibit that displayed his lithographs. We visited two rooms that showed almost all his original advertisement posters for various events and people. The collection was owned by the tennis player Ivan Lendl and it was a rare event to see almost all the pieces in one place. Mucha seemed like a visual genius. His use of symbols and hidden meanings within his artwork made the posters so captivating and interesting. After the exhibit, I was excited to find out that we were going to Veletrzni palac to see Mucha’s most legendary exhibition, the Slav Epic. The Slav Epic is a series of paintings that convey the journey of Slavic and Czech history. Before coming to Prague, I had never heard of the Slav Epic, and I was happy to find a class of young children learning about the Slav Epic in the art museum. We never learned anything like that in my art class in elementary school! I walked around the class to notice the details of the children’s reactions to the paintings. I realized all the children were eager to ask questions about the giant artwork in front of them. Many were raising their hands and jumping up in down in excitement. The Slav Epic paintings were gigantic and overpowering. I can’t imagine how tall they seemed in the little children’s’ eyes. I was glad to see the small class learning more than simple finger painting and crafts like I did in elementary school. Instead, the Czech children were learning about their country’s history in a very unique way.
On Tuesday, our class walked around Prague with an alchemist tour guide. He explained symbols within the architecture of the city related to science, religion, and philosophy. I would have never figured out the meaning behind the small detailed symbols placed on buildings without the tour.
Afterwards, we traveled to a small alchemy museum, called Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague. The museum was tucked away within the busy tourists shops on the streets leading up to the Prague castle. The museum site was hundreds of years old and it was placed in the location of where Edward Kelley, a famous Prague alchemist, once lived. The museum was based in his attic, which made the atmosphere even more mysterious.
Before we traveled up to the museum, we ate at the alchemy café next door. Here I discovered the very fascinating bar with two women making concoctions and potions for their guests. The bar was decorated like a chemical laboratory, in honor of Edward Kelley’s love for science.
After lunch, we traveled up ancient spiraled steps to get to the attic. Once at the top, it was as though we stepped back in time to sneak up on Edward Kelley working away with his experiments. The museum was dark and ghostly, but overall it was fascinating to view a replica of the science and magic that was performed in the past. Unfortunately, this small wonder won’t be staying here much longer. A condominium company bought the museum complex and the magical alchemy attic will no longer be preserved.
Yesterday evening, after spending hours caged up in our apartment watching episodes of the Walking Dead, we decided to venture out for a night walk around the city of Prague. After a short period of being lost, we made our way back to our neighborhood and journeyed over to a park to take photographs while the rain had finally stopped. As I took pictures, I realized that there were surprisingly a lot of people walking their dogs at night. Similar to both Victoria and I, they were most likely taking advantage of the pause in rainfall and freeing their dogs from interior cages.
I have noticed how the people of Prague do not like to put their dogs on leashes and their dogs are usually obedient enough to stay by their side. However, this dog photographed above did not stay next to his owner. He ran towards me, placed his muddy paws upon my rain jacket, and started to lick my face. Fortunately, I didn’t mind because I’m a dog owner myself. The owner hurried over to me to profusely apologize and millions of Czech words poured from his mouth,”S dovolením” and “prominte,” all in the tone of embarrassment on behalf of the actions of his large, wet dog. In English, I told him not to worry as I smiled while he walked away.
Looking back on this attempt at conversation, I am surprised by our ability to communicate. The language barrier prevented further interaction, but it was clear that we understood each other. We related to one another, despite differences that may separate us from one another. This small conversation made me appreciate how we are able to incorporate emotions, hand gestures, and facial expressions into various methods of communication. These details in conversation allow us to understand each other, no matter what language you speak.