In-person registration began Monday, February 24, for all summer study-abroad courses.

Open to all disciplines, this three-week interdisciplinary course immerses students in the extraordinary landscape, culture, history, and art of Iceland.

Iceland: Reykjavík and the Icelandic West / FULL

Instructor: John Zurier
May 22–June 12, 2014


With its volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, waterfalls, lava fields, flowering meadows, windswept beaches, and ancient Saga steads, Iceland offers an extraordinary range of geological terrain -- and a midsummer twilight that lasts through the night.

This small island country of 320,000 people has produced many notable artists, writers, and musicians and attracted others from around the world.

The course focuses on experiences of nature and the history and storytelling of the Icelanders as the primary sources for the exploration and development of new work.

The first week in Reykjavík, which coincides with the annual International Reykjavík Arts Festival, offers students an intensive introduction to the art and culture of Iceland.

The class visits artists' and designers' studios, galleries, the National Museum of Iceland, The National Gallery, Nordic House, Culture House, ASÍ Art Museum, Kjarvalsstadir, Hafnarhus, HARPA, and more. Accommodations are in apartments with kitchens in downtown Reykjavík.

Students are responsible for most of their own meals while in Reykjavík.

Participants then spend two weeks on the west coast of Iceland on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, near Snæfellsjökull, famous as the setting of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. The area surrounding Snæfellsjökull is one of four National Parks in Iceland and rich in history from the time of the earliest Viking settlements c.861.

Snæfellsnes Community was the first Green Globe Certified community in Europe, one of only four in the world.

Accommodations are in modern guesthouses on a working horse farm, within walking distance of beaches, mountains, lava fields, and natural hot springs. In this beautiful remote location, the class engages in a period of focused work, apart from the everyday world, with all meals provided.

Excursions include a day trip to Stykkishhólmer to Roni Horn’s Vatnasafn/Library of Water, the volcano museum, and a guided boat trip to the islands; Snæfellsjókull; fishing villages, and other locations that figure prominently in Icelandic sagas and folktales.

Texts, videos, and music are assigned in preparation for the class. Students are also expected to read and share additional material of their own choosing during the class, keep daily notebooks/sketchbooks, participate in daily drawing sessions while in Snæfellsnes, research and develop ideas for future projects, and participate in a group exhibition in spring 2015.


This trip was not only an aid for thinking about my artwork, but also an aid in thinking about life. It opened my eyes to so many new and humbling things that I would go so far as to say that everyone needs to experience Iceland.


Our artist and studio visits allotted us intimate time with Iceland’s leading artists (who are all more than generous with their time).

About the Instructor

John Zurier has been traveling around Iceland since 2002. He has become deeply involved in the culture and history of the people; the literature, music, art and design as well as contemporary political and social issues.

The extreme forces that have shaped the landscape, the constantly shifting weather, and the clear blue light have all had a profound impact on his work.

His recent exhibitions at Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, Peter Blum Gallery, New York, and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin, have consisted mainly of paintings and watercolors that he made while in Iceland.

Learn more about John Zurier »


Undergraduates: Completion of at least sophomore level by summer 2014 and instructor approval.
Graduates: Instructor approval

In addition all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2013–14 academic year.

Course Satisfies

For undergraduates this course satisfies a Studio Elective or Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio. For painting undergraduates, this course satisfies Compositional Studies or Workshop units.

For graduate students this course satisfies a gradwide elective or studio practice.

Program Fee

$4,995 + $50 registration fee

Included in program fee:
3 units, housing, shared studio space, 14 days of three meals a day while staying at Lysuholl Farm, guest lectures, museum entrance fees, field trips, and travel/health insurance

Not included in program fee:
Airfare to and from Iceland, ground transportation to and from airport in Iceland, meals for seven days while in Reykjavik

Please make sure you read the related links in full:

In-person registration begins on Monday, February 24, for all summer study abroad courses. Students should register no later than Friday, March 7. If spaces are available in the course after this date, students may still register as long as accommodations have not been finalized.

All CCA summer study-abroad courses (including the New York Studio and Marfa Fieldwork Project) are coordinated by the Office of Special Programs.


Office of Special Programs
Oakland campus, Ralls 201

Nina Sadek
Dean of Special Programs

Carol Pitts
Operations Manager, Special Programs

Approval Process

To obtain instructor approval, please email with the following information about yourself:

  • What is your major and academic year?
  • What is your primary artistic focus?
  • Why are you interested in this class and in traveling to Iceland?
  • Do you have a project in mind while in Iceland?
  • Describe an instance where you helped a friend with a problem

The email is due by no later than Saturday, February 1. The instructor will then notify you of approval.

Instructor approval does not guarantee registration or enrollment. You must register and pay tuition in order to be enrolled in the class. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.