After moving to the Whitcomb Art Center, Art professors are enjoying the new facilities, but some in the department miss being in the center of campus and the history of the old studios.
The new facilities include a metalworking shop and a woodworking shop, which had previously been included in the sculpture studio, as well as larger painting, printmaking and sculpture studios, according to Assistant Professor of Art Andrea Ferrigno.
“It’s very exciting to be in a nice, clean, open space,” Ferrigno said.
However, not everyone loves how clean the new building is.
Senior Allison Pritzl, an open studio student, previously had a studio in the basement of the Aux Gym, one of the many places in which the department had rooms across campus. She now has a studio on the second floor of Whitcomb.
“For working, for me, it’s really stifling. It’s really white and pure,” Pritzl said. “I’ve just gotta get used to it. And I will.”
Pritzl also noted that she missed having the layers of work that have built up in the Aux Gym basement, as open studio students added their work over the years.
Professor of Art and Art History Gregory Gilbert had his old office in the Old Jail. He is excited to be in the new building, with the other members of his department, and sees it as a potential tool in recruiting new art students for Knox.
“I think this is a whole new phase for the Art and Art History Department,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert previously taught in the Round Room, but now uses the lecture hall on the second floor of Whitcomb. He also plans to use the seminar room for his class Interpreting Works of Art.
“It’s a beautiful lecture space,” Gilbert said.
There have been a few problems with the space, however. Gilbert and students noticed in the first week of classes that the projector in the lecture hall vibrated. The contractors and a consulting firm came in to determine the issue.
Associate Professor of Art Mark Holmes noted that the vibrations may have been caused by the aluminum casting company across the street which uses large machinery to shake molds in and that every new building has certain quirks that are not discovered until it is built and used.
According to Gilbert, the problem is that the projector is mounted on the back wall of the room, which has the power system for the building mounted on the other side. The power system caused the wall to vibrate. The contractors and consulting firm have come up with a buffering solution that they believe will solve the problem.
Holmes, and the department as a whole, have been involved with the design process from the beginning several years ago. Holmes and Associate Professor of Art Tony Gant were on the committee that selected Texas architecture firm Lake Flato to design the building.
According to Holmes, the original concept was a practical warehouse structure, which changed over the process into the design that was built.
“It really was an impressive, more striking, more beautiful design,” Gilbert said.
The building offers more space for the presentation of student work, and accommodates how art and art teaching have changed since CFA was built in 1963.
“There’s a lot of energy toward mixed media, inter-media things,” Holmes said.
Despite their excitement for the new building, the department will need to adapt to not being in CFA. Whitcomb is significantly farther from the center of campus than CFA is.
“You do feel a little bit more removed,” Ferrigno said.
In addition to the distance to campus, Whitcomb also lacks the theatre and music departments CFA also housed.
“The thing we will miss is having colleagues from other departments around,” Holmes said.
The building brings new potential for the department, and there is a general sense of excitement among professors and students.
“We’re delighted with it. It’s everything we hoped it would be and then some. It [ended] up being a much more inspiring, exciting piece of architecture,” Holmes said.