In a landscape of extremes that many might assume inhospitable to civilization, Iceland, with a population of 330,000 people (the size of the city of Bakersfield!), has had an enormous, outsized influence on the world. The idea of artistic practice in this enigmatic culture extends into almost every facet of everyday life, resulting in an almost comically large number of artists, poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creative practitioners for such a small country.

Iceland: Reykjavík and the Icelandic West

Instructor: Brook Hinton
May 18–June 8, 2016

Check-in: May 18
Checkout: June 8

Interested students should contact Brook Hinton ( to start the approval process for registration.


Open to all disciplines, this three-week interdisciplinary course immerses students in the extraordinary landscape, culture, history, and art of Iceland. Focusing on the experiences of Iceland's rural and urban cultures, it uses the history and storytelling of the Icelanders as the catalyst for the exploration and development of new work.

In Reykjavik, students receive an intensive introduction to the art and culture of Iceland, exploring not only the city's extroardinary museums and venues but also exciting contemporary work featured in the annual Reykjavik Arts Festival. Students are housed in centrally located apartments, perfectly situated for  visits to 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.

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.

The horse farm is an ideal base for field trips to the Peninsula's rich array of natural and man-made wonders, from Roni Horn's Library of Water to sites of Icelandic sagas and folktales, to the glacier itself.

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 a daily studio diary or sketchbook in their media of choice (whether analog or digital), participate in daily studio work sessions while in Snæfellsnes, research and develop ideas for future projects, and participate in a group exhibition in spring 2017.


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

Brook Hinton is a filmmaker, media artist and composer with a deep involvement in the relationship of place to the artistic process. Much of his work draws from his own field recordings and images gathered in Iceland, Wales, Indonesia, and across the United States. Inspired by the unique relationship between Icelanders, the volatile land on which they live, and their artistic process – resulting in an extraordinarily broad and deep collection of work from such a small nation – he has become deeply engaged in study of the country's political and social development as well as its cinema, music, literature, art and design.

He has recently been commissioned to write and direct the live cinema-opera THE SEED VAULT, which draws on recent and historical conflicts connected to food production and environmental issues involving Iceland, Norway, and the U.S.

Learn more about Brook Hinton »


Undergraduates: Completion of at least sophomore level by summer 2016 and instructor approval
Graduate students: Instructor approval

In addition all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2015–16 academic year.

Course Satisfies

For undergraduates, this course satisfies a Studio Elective or Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio (for students who have achieved junior or senior standing by the end of Spring 2016).
For film undergraduates, this course may be used to satisfy a 200 or 300 level workshop requirement.
For graduate students, this course satisfies a Grad-wide Elective or Studio Practice.

Program Fee

To be announced + $50 registration fee

Included in program fee:
3 credits, 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

Related Topics
(Please read in entirety)

All CCA summer study-abroad courses (including the New York Studio) 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