School of Art to have a place to call home


 A construction worker for Canton Floors Inc. measures a beam outside of the Art Annex on Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015. Construction on the art building is set to be complete in early June.

Andrea Delph

Renovations and additions for the Center for the Visual Arts are to be completed by Spring 2016 to bring all visual arts programs and disciplines under one roof for the first time in decades —will be completed by spring 2016.

The School of Art currently occupies several buildings across campus and plans to combine the various art programs into the center as well as improve the facility for students.

Courses for visual arts occupy the Art Building, the Art Annex, Van Deusen Hall, Schwartz Center, Ceramics Building, Olson and Terrace halls.

“We need to be closer to one another in order to benefit,” Christine Havice, Director of the School of Art said. “We’ve been a country spread out over many islands for years, and it is hard to run a program when your students have to run all over.”

She said that her students have to make an extra effort to use the equipment in the ceramics building due to its location.

The art facilities renovations and additions are part of the university’s Foundations of Excellence cost about $33.5 million initiative which includes 77,000-square-feet of renovations and nearly 38,000-square-feet of new construction, according to the Office of University Architect website.

Renovations made to Van Deusen Hall will enable the building to be linked with the Art Annex, the university’s former heating plant.

The adjoining of the two buildings will allow students and faculty a larger facility that will encourage the spread of diverse ideas between each concentration.

“It’s a great gift to have a new building. I believe because we have such a strong community of artist here at the university that interaction will improve,” said Taryn McMahon, an assistant professor of Art.

McMahon said that because the art program is especially diverse with a range of different backgrounds, interests and experiences, this will increase the Center for Visual Arts presence on Kent’s campus.

“Art has the ability to be interesting to people outside of art,” she said.

In regards to interaction between majors being one of the most important factors for construction, McMahon explains, “In each area, the faculty and students are engaging in original research that uses their discipline forward. Students and faculty certainly collaborate and share ideas with each other already, but being in the same building will foster deeper familiarity.”

She explains that several of her colleagues are doing interesting work with digital technology they are applying to traditional art media. McMahon explains that this will be inspiring for other students to think, “How can I apply that technology to what I am currently doing?”

“That is the ultimate goal -to share ideas and create an environment that facilitates creative practices,” McMahon said.

The facility is LEED Silver certified for efficiency and sustainability and will provide high tech work spaces, informal spaces for students to relax and study and state of the art equipment for students and faculty.

It will also house the schools galleries and studios that will be displayed through transparent walls, which will allow activity to be visible 24/7 from Terrace Drive.

“We don’t have performances, we have art, so by moving the galleries to the front of the new building where they will be most visible may encourage students to pay us a visit,” Havice said.

“This will make it more of an art community,” Sarah McGill a senior with a painting concentration said. “Rather than divided among the sculptors, painters, printmakers and so on. We can finally see what everyone is doing all at the same time.”

Even though McGill is a senior who is expected to graduate this spring, she said she will be coming back to pay the new building a visit. “This will contribute to Kent’s art reputation and make me proud to say I graduated from here,” she said.

The building will be completed in stages with the Art Annex being said to be complete by June 2015 and Van Deusen by winter break 2015. There will be a dedication scheduled for Spring 2016 with activities to be announce at a later date.

The School of Art offers the only Masters of Fine Arts degree in the Visual Arts in Northeastern Ohio. It offers a breadth of disciplinary majors and minors in the state and has been an accredited school by National Association of schools of art and design since 1969.

Contact Andrea Delph at [email protected]