Art school remains upbeat

BY MAGGIE PETERS | MAY 13, 2009 7:30 AM

Despite having to move into an old hardware store after last summer’s flood, students and faculty in the UI School of Art and Art History are using state-of-the-art technology and said they will continue to in the future.

“We had a particularly unusual situation,” said Dorothy Johnson, the director of the school. “We were in the process of renovating Art Building East at the time it was flooded.”

Johnson said renovation plans to the now flood-damaged Arts Campus were in progress for two to three years before the flood, and parts were implemented to the school’s current home in the Menards building off of Highway 1 W.

“We were able to take all the renovation plans and make a really wonderful setup at Menards with all the equipment,” Johnson said. “When we eventually move to new facilities, we’ll be able to take all that knowledge and experience and have a better idea of what is needed.”

One piece of new equipment officials purchased this year includes a state-of-the-art exhaust system for kilns, said Professor Steve McGuire, the school’s Studio Division coordinator.

McGuire said the exhaust system is particularly beneficial because so much of students’ work is industrial, giving them the ability to work in ceramics, jewelry creation, metal sculpting, and more.

And digital technologies are also being used.

The art school is beginning to take advantage of three-dimensional printers, allowing users to create an image on the computer and print a model in 3-D form, Johnson said.

This has helped the department conduct 3-D courses and fully integrate workshops, McGuire said.
“Digital technology affects all areas of the arts, and we are definitely a department that is technology dependent,” Johnson said.

When it comes to the relocation or rebuilding of Art Building East, officials said they are still in the planning process, though consideration is being given to a location close to Art Building West.

McGuire said he estimates a new studio-art building is about four years away. “At the moment, we are just in the planning stages, but we’re very excited about what we have to work with now, and what we can look forward to,” Johnson said.

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