In the new Whitcomb Art Center, a crowd of alumni, faculty and staff explored the newly finished arts building during a champagne and dessert reception during the Homecoming festivities Saturday night. The two-level arts center will open in Winter Term and will provide an expanded arts facility and consolate the department.
Dick ‘57 and Joan ‘56 Whitcomb, who provided the $5 million lead donation for the new studio art and art history building, were present at the opening.
“Joan has always been interested in art, so it was kind of a natural fit,” Dick Whitcomb said, “[The building] was not what I expected, a lot bigger. It’s impressive.”
The center already carries some history with it, as the bricks of the facade come from brick pathways on campus which over time were replaced with cement. The wood on the exterior is original to the lumberyard which once stood where the Whitcomb Arts Center does now.
However, not all were fans of how the building looks.
“I feel like it’s a little bit odd with the rest of the campus,” Colleen Flint ‘15 said.
“I wish the outside fit in a little more,” Adrienne Ernst ‘15 agreed, but added, “Maybe it will start a new whole era of buildings. … It definitely opens the campus a little bit. It doesn’t have that wall as much anymore.” Ernst said that she if she was still at Knox, she would have tried to take an art class just to spend time in the new space.
Each discipline has its own space. 100 and 200 level classes will be held be on the first floor, while advanced studio is located on the upper floor where classrooms and professor offices are also located. Moveable walls on the second floor will allow students to structure the space however works best for them. Painted white, the building offers many spaces to display student work.
“I think it’s a pretty inspiring place to walk into,” Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Tim Stedman said, who with other arts professors will move in during winter break. “The big plus is that there is going to be so much more room for teaching, just an expanded facilities.”
“Now we’re all together under one – several roofs – but only one building,” Professor of Art Lynette Lombard said. “It’s going to be marvelous.” The department was previously spread out on campus, with photography classes in SMC and GDH, student studios located in the Auxiliary Gym basement and professors in Old Jail and Borzello Hall.
Few students were in attendance, as the event was not marketed toward current students, but art student and Senior Emma Lister said she felt “spoiled” by the new building.
“I’m not going to waste one second in this space,” Lister said. “I feel like I’m going to an art school instead of a liberal arts school with an art program.” She felt Knox would now be more competitive to students who might be deciding between an arts school and a liberal arts college. The center is Knox’s first new building to be built on campus since the Center of Fine Arts in the 1960s.
The Whitcomb opens for students and classes Winter Term.
“The inauguration of this building — paint on the floor and sawdust and all kinds of things — that will be very exciting actually. We have to do that, create a little bit of a mess,” Lombard said.