Summer Abroad in Iceland

Many visitors to Iceland begin and end their trip in the warm mineral water of the Blue Lagoon, near Keflavík airport.

The following course was held in summer 2013. Complete information for Summer Study Abroad 2014 will be posted (dates, descriptions, pricing) by December 20, 2014.

This course concentrates on the relationship of nature to creativity and art.

Open to all disciplines and to both graduates and undergraduates who have completed their sophomore level, this three-week intensive immerses students in the nature and culture of Iceland and offers insight and practice in how to travel and document those experiences for use in future projects.

ICELAND: Reykjavik and the Icelandic West

Instructor: John Zurier
May 20–June 10, 2013

Spots are still available. Interested students should contact John Zurier right away to start the approval process for registration.


With its volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, waterfalls, lava fields, flowering meadows, and beaches, Iceland’s extraordinary range of terrain is like nowhere else, and in midsummer it is never dark. This small island country of 320,000 people has produced many notable artists, writers, and musicians and attracted others from around the world.

Our focus is on the experience, perception, and sensation of nature as a primary source for the exploration and development of new work.

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

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

Accommodations are in modern cabins 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.

Students also take several day trips to the summit of Snæfellsjökull glacier and surrounding areas, Roni Horn’s Vatnasafn/Library of Water in Stykkishhólmer, and other locations that figure prominently in the Icelandic sagas.

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 2014.

Read CCA Graduate Program in Fine Arts student Lindsey Lyons's account of her experience in the summer 2011 Iceland course.


Undergraduates: completion of sophomore level by summer 2013 and instructor approval.
Graduates: instructor approval

In addition all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2012–13 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.

Program Fee

$5,000 + $50 summer registration fee

Program fee includes
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 (see insurance)

Program fee does not include
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:

Financial Aid
Passport, Visa, and Insurance
Code of Conduct

All CCA Summer Study Abroad courses (including New Mexico, New York, and Texas Studios) 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