Akin to an elaborate blanket fort, the second floor of the Whitcomb Art Building (WAC) hosts a maze of studio spaces for senior art majors. At all hours of the day and night, art students immerse themselves in their work and create a sense of community through shared creative energy.
This year, Art Professor Tony Gant made some major changes in the work spaces for his Open Studio students. ART 390 takes place every Winter Term. During the term, Studio Art majors work in the studio while spending six hours a week in critical dialogue with a team of faculty members. Students are expected to spend at least 30 hours a week in their studio. Due to the amount of time they spend in the space, students often take to personalizing their studios.
“Much of my work focused on vulnerability of people and this required privacy but now having an open space has made it feel more communal and has helped me move out of my comfort zone,” Senior art major Eli Adams said.
Gant insisted that this year’s open studio spaces have a more ‘open environment’ feel to them.
When the change took place, Adams was reluctant at first because the move from a grid-like space to a more open space seemed like a challenge. However, Adams has found a way to adjust through the usage of comforting colors in Adam’s decor choice.
With pink walls and hanging sculptures, Adams was attracted to this color scheme because it felt like a soft and inviting color which represented a feeling of safety for Adams.
“I like to work on a space that feels safe because it makes me feel less vulnerable to push myself into making work that is less safe, but in my own terms,” Adams said.
For senior David Petrak, the change in his work space had an effect on his paintings from last year.
“The space I had before was more towards the front and out in the open so it felt almost too public for me and I feel like my paintings reflected that,” Petrak said. “I had much smaller paintings and I felt like I was scared before and tried to be more secretive but now that I get my own privacy, I make much bigger paintings.”
On one side of his walls hang his older, smaller paintings and the others have his more recent, large oil paintings. He has also decorated his space with sheer curtains to get a sense of privacy.
“ I feel like this space is where I can think most critically about my work; it almost feels like problem solving,” Petrak said.
For Senior Olivia Peterson, her studio is decorated with a mix of her own paintings as well as the artists whose works are related to hers.
“The WAC building is very pristine with clean and straight lines and it has influenced my paintings to be more colorful in contrast,” Peterson said.
Compared to her studio space in her sophomore year which was more out in the open, her current studio space “feels more like a room”. Her recent work has been focused on more interior claustrophobic spaces.
“My professors have told me that my work needs to be more open, with less tension,” Peterson said.
For Peterson, the open environment has helped them try to recreate the sense of openness in their work.
For Senior Kaelie Seatter, her studio space is where she feels like she is away from all distractions. Surrounded by three walls, her space is also private. Every wall has a different medium, one wall has drawings, which is what she starts with.
Like Petrak’s work, she has also seen a change in size of her work which is much bigger than it used to be before. The window in her space has also inspired some of her work.
“I sometimes draw shapes from the buildings I see outside that surround WAC,” Seatter said.
One of her walls is decorated with children’s drawings, which she draws inspiration from especially as an Education major.
“I love the way the spaces are stacked in the children’s drawings because they have yet to understand the complexity of space,” Seatter said.