Visual Art in Spain and Morocco

Alahanbra, Granada

Visual Art in Spain and Morocco

Visit Spain and Morocco during this Visual Art summer program.
Location: Spain and Morocco
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: Yes
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

This study abroad program offers students the opportunity to explore the vibrant culture of Al-Andalus in Islamic Spain and northern Morocco while visiting historic sites, world-class museums, and cultural centers in both countries. Participants will also engage in specialized workshops with master artisans, studio visits with contemporary artists, and social gatherings with fellow Fine Arts students. 

Every pattern tells a story, and students will experience firsthand the transformative power of patterns, repetition and the sensorial qualities of Islamic architecture and art. During the program participants will examine why the cultural legacy of centuries ago continues to influence contemporary art making without relinquishing traditional methods, patterns and tools. They will also see if contemporary art making fits within capitalist models of profit and look at the future of crafts.

Participants will keep a thoughtful journal- a sort of a cartographic investigation of places visited as well as lived experiences to include photography, writing, sketching, and even sounds, smells, and casual conversations with locals. 

The program combines travel, site visits, lectures, workshops, and some time to make art. Our time will be divided between seven locations that will give us a glimpse into the past and the future of art, architecture, and crafts.

2023 Program Dates:

Depart U.S.: Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Arrive in Madrid: Thursday, May 25, 2023

Depart Madrid: Monday, June 12, 2023

The program travels to 5 cities in Spain and 2 in northern Morocco to include historic sites, walking tours, and studio visits with contemporary artists, craftspeople and fellow fine arts students in Morocco. 

Madrid & Toledo (7 days total, 3 days at beginning of program & 4 days at end of program)

A very little known fact about Madrid is that it began as a small fortified town in Al-Andalus, and is the only city in Europe of Islamic origins. We will take a walking tour of Islamic Madrid, including an archeological dig in Plaza de España, all while we visit historic sites and world-class museums, such as the Museo del Prado; Reina Sofia, and the Lázaro Galdiano. We will take a daytrip to Toledo, the “City of the Three Cultures” with its old Muslim, Jewish and Christian neighborhoods. Our stay in Madrid will conclude with a workshop by renown calligrapher Pablo Casado. 

Granada (2 days) 

Participants will visit the Alhambra and the Generalife--a royal citadel, a fortress, and a summer royal retreat. Its magnificent architecture and stunning views make it one of the most visited monuments in Europe with 3 million every year and the only one of its kind in the world.

Seville (3 days) 

We will visit The Cathedral— originally a grand mosque with its giant minaret, the Giralda, modelled after the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. From the top one can enjoy sweeping panoramic views from the tallest building in Seville. We will take a daytrip to Córdoba--once the capital of Islamic Spain and its Mezquita--a symbol of the sophisticated culture that flourished at that time.

Tetouan (5 days) 

Hosted by Art Residency program Green Olive Arts, we will experience a comprehensive curriculum including lessons in Sacred Geometry and Arabic language; a traditional leatherworking workshop; a visit to the Royal Artisan School (Dar S’naa), and a roundtable with fellow students and faculty at the Institute National des Beaux-Arts, followed by a traditional Moroccan Couscous. 

Chefchaouen (1 day) 

The Morocco program culminates with an overnight in Chefchaouen – the “Blue Pearl of Morocco,” an ancient town nestled in the Rif Mountains- ideal for on-sight painting and sketching, while staying in a renovated traditional riad. The city houses the Mausoleum of Sayyida al Hurra –known as the ‘Pirate Queen’ an important female figure in the Islamic West for her leadership qualities.

Participants will then fly from Tangier, Morocco to Madrid and stay an additional four days in Madrid. 

Program Course:

ART 395/595 Study Abroad Topics in: Following the Vibrant Culture of Al-Andalus in Islamic Spain and northern Morocco Through Art, Architecture, and Crafts — 3 credit hours (Required)

Students may elect to take ART 395 /595 for additional 3 hours if additional work and projects are completed.

All students will be required to keep a thoughtful sketchbook journal during the program, which will be turned in at the end of the study abroad experience. Students may elect to take ART395/595 for additional 3 hours to complete additional works and projects in consultation with the professor.


Participants will stay in centrally located hotels in Madrid, Seville, Granada, and Tetouan. In Chefchaouen, we will be stay in a renovated traditional Riad House. Breakfast is included daily.

Open to all majors of undergraduate or graduate students from any accredited U.S. college or university. Minimum 2.5 GPA required (exceptions considered after submission of a petition).


Program Director:

Professor F. María Velasco is a Professor of Art, Expanded Media in the Visual Art Department at the University of Kansas. She creates site-specific installations, public art, and socially engaged art and has exhibited and lead workshops nationally and abroad. Velasco received her B.F.A. and completed her doctoral courses at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, and her M.F.A. at the University of California Santa Barbara.

For More Information, contact:

María Velasco, Professor 

Department of Visual Art

University of Kansas