Scaling Up: Forever Lund Scholar Jose Soria on How Study Abroad Changed His Mind About Art, Space, and Learning

Lund Scholar Jose Soria (2022-23)

Studying abroad in London really affirmed my capabilities and potential.

Being exposed to so much of the art that London has to offer changed the way that I approach my art-making process. It removed mental limitations about studying and making art, letting me change my work in content and size. It made me feel that I could paint at a bigger scale to fill my art with more content, and intention.

About a year ago in London, the “Strange Clay” exhibition at The Hayward Gallery and David Altmejd’s show at The White Cube completely changed my view of the gallery space. At “Strange Clay”, Lindsey Mendick’s installation “Till Death Do Us Part” transported me to the household environment and made me think about how artists affect spaces.

Photo of 2022 Lund Scholar Sarah Muller

Jose with his sketchbook, London 2023. Photo: Lisa Lund-Brown

“Saint Sebastián”, Jose Soria, 2023.

Following study abroad, I took on installation art. It inspired my own piece based on my adolescence and the living room that I grew up in, full of religious imagery. I also started to produce much bigger paintings.

I’d never traveled before the London program.

During my interview with the scholarship committee, a main point was that the Foundation board was looking for students that Ed Lund would have loved to have worked with. Initially on the trip, I was already close friends with two other Lund Scholars and acquainted with two more. I thought it would just be the five of us surviving London together.

Less than a week in, I realized why each of us were chosen.

I saw that we came from different backgrounds and lived different lives but there was an evident spark in each one of us.


In the course of three weeks, we became lifelong friends. It was like a summer camp where you meet and do everything together, and become very close. We took in the all that art together, and lots of pictures. The Nags Head pub in Covent Garden became our home, the place we’d go for dinner together and for large group drawing sessions. Our last night, our “Strongbow (cider) family” vowed we’d come back to The Nags Head someday. We walked to the Thames and down to the water’s edge. We cast our wishes to the river, vowing that this would not be the last of our travels, only the beginning.

Along with the sheer volume of art that I experienced in London, I’m grateful for the kind souls I met and lifelong family I’ve made.

That includes Yan (Dan) Gold, the London artist who gave me my first tattoo. It says, “Live to the Point of Tears,” part of a quote by Albert Camus that Ed Lund loved and friends say truly represents the way he saw and embraced life. I’d long been following Gold’s work, so it was especially cool to get to talk with him in person. We talked about places –– differences between America and the U.K., museums and sites the program had toured, local places where he goes to find inspiration.

I also talked about my own artwork. It was really cool to get feedback from an artist I know and admire.

"Three Vultures" by Angel Lesnikowski, 2023

Jose’s tattoo by Yan Gold.

The Lund Scholarship has truly changed the trajectory of my life. Being able to experience all of this changed my limitations, especially when it comes to studying art beyond the Central Valley. Now, I see myself as a lifelong student of the world who wants to experience all of the art that it has to offer, through Fresno State and my own excursions.

I would not be at this place if not for my experiences studying abroad. With its recognition of my work, the Lund Scholarship gave me an opportunity to change the way I create art, and remains an affirmation that gives me courage to pursue more than what I thought was possible.

Jose Soria is completing his final semester in the Fresno State graduate program in art. His newest work features life-size figure paintings and installation work to explore the division between sexuality and religion, and conflicts within it. In the Fresno area, view some for yourself by checking out his solo graduate exhibition, “I Exist Both Here and There,” which runs through Feb. 29 at the Phebe Conley Gallery at Fresno State.

Scaling Up: Forever Lund Scholar Jose Soria on How Study Abroad Changed His Mind About Art, Space, and Learning

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Forever Lund Scholars, Uncategorized


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