Soggy. Moist. Wet.
Plodding through the mushy grass, I ventured into the darkness on a cold, rainy Tuesday evening. I had set out in search for the latest art installation on campus. The wind howled above as my tired feet carried me across the soccer field towards the Siebert building.
After a couple of minutes of getting lost in the rain, without piña coladas, I found a faint light in the distance. Drawn to it like a moth to a lightbulb, I quickly found myself stepping inside the old millwright workshop, greeted by a flotilla of art students, visitors and random by-passers.
Along the wall, a grand mural depicting a variety of myths and legends had been created by the local art students over the span of several weeks.
“We saw this big, open space and a student suggested that it’d be a perfect place for a mural. I figured, why not?” said art instructor Donna Bains.
She went on to explain that the students themselves were in charge of leading the project, and decided upon the theme through a vote. Working on the mural once a week for three and a half hours, the art students dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the initiative.
“I settled on the topic by whim. Quite a few religions have some sort of heaven and hell represented in their mythos. So, I made the gate to heaven, guarded by Justice and Mercy on either side.” Said art major Darbie Dennis, who relied heavily upon charcoal to create the ethereal impression of the heavenly gate.
I was then given the opportunity to tour the facilities, guided by art instructor Michael Horswill who was a driving force behind the repurposing of the old millwright workshop for the fine arts division.
“If you don’t have the space to work with, it’s hard to envision the greatness you can create,” he said, motioning to the many rooms and vast space that had been set aside for all branches of art. Metals, welding, plasma cutting, enamel, ceramic: these were but some of the methods available to the students in order to further their skills and enable their creative freedom.
“It’s an opportunity for the students, you need to get some ink on it, your hands dirty, you know?” Horswill said.
The new studio art space was the physical, tangible representation of what was required to further accommodate the art program’s need and ambitions in the future, able to host integrated art projects and expand upon them as well as potential offerings available.
The mural was an example of this cross-class integration of the available space, and how a collective cultural effort can further the program as whole.
“Oh, this right here: I think that’s what Bob Ross would’ve called ‘a happy little accident,’” Said Joe Garcia, another student contributor to the mural, tracing the tips of his fingers over his stylized image of Poseidon.
For a moment, I thought he was referring to me, and I nodded in agreement.