Art students revel in new studio

February 10, 2009

Jes Osrow returned from a semester in Ecuador to find big changes on McDaniel’s campus. First, the junior from Keene, N.H., moved gleefully into the newly renovated Garden Apartments, “the Gardens” as students have dubbed them.

And then, the Art and Theatre Arts Management major set up shop in the new Art Studio addition – a 2,400-square-foot, two-story, light-drenched space that junior and senior Advanced Studio students now call home.

“It’s roomy and bright and clean – so great to work in,” Osrow said as she mixed a little white into a deep-green mound of oil paint. Art majors have led a nomadic life in the past few years, moving from the lower level of Albert Norman Ward residence hall to the lower level of Gil Center while awaiting construction of the new addition.

Now, just weeks after opening, the $500,000 addition’s vivid white walls and ceilings stand in sharp contrast to the dark well-used wood easels, chairs, tables and desks that dot the rooms. Each of the 22 students has staked their claim with the tools and materials of their medium.

For junior Rachel Held, that includes her sewing machine and fabric. Her space is tucked into a windowed corner on the second floor where she is surrounded by the textures and colors of dandelions, a theme she chose for its inherent message of happiness and comfort.

“This is such a huge difference,” Held said, noting the room’s airiness as sun streamed in through window-studded walls.

The students’ mentor, Associate Professor Steve Pearson, says that it is exciting to see his students so excited over their new studio. But perhaps even more important, the addition brings all Art classes – and students – under one roof. By seeing the work of advanced students, freshmen can make connections between what they are doing now and how that will evolve and develop over their years at McDaniel, Pearson said.

These Art students are still discovering all the advantages of the new studio. Jes Osrow points to the strip of electrical outlets that circles the room, and she can’t wait to test out the new workshop with its table saw and band saw.

The power tools will help students make the required canvas stretchers in no time – and the workshop opens the possibility of a 3-D design or wood sculpture class.

Studio art classes were relocated to the historic carriage house behind Carroll Hall in 1994 when the largest art facility, Peterson Hall, was renovated. This semester more than 70 students are majoring in studio arts.

The Art Studio addition is one of the projects completed under McDaniel’s master plan, which details a vision for the growth of the College’s 160-acre campus and has recently included Academic Hall, student residences in North Village, Merritt Fitness Center and Klitzberg Pavilion.

McDaniel offers five areas of undergraduate study in Art and Art History as well as graduate courses and art teaching certification.