The Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Colorado Springs, located immediately south of Packard Hall, is a world-renowned art space free to Colorado College students with an ID. The FAC and the college have always had ties to one another, but the nature of their relationship has changed as administrations have turned over.
“There was a time when classes were held over at the Fine Arts Center and we would share visiting artists who’d have residencies there and teach here at CC,” IDEA Space Curator Jessica Larsen said. Although this practice has ended, the relationship between the two institutions continues to manifest through other outlets.
An exhibit featuring James Turrell and Scott Johnson, art department professor, is running on the second floor of the FAC. The two exhibits are paired together with the common theme of the exploration of the presence of light. The pairing is a great opportunity to see the work of CC faculty in conjunction with an internationally known artist and is definitely worth visiting before the exhibition closes on Sept. 30.
“I think it’s a great example of a museum of that scope recognizing the local artist community and placing this local community in the context of national art,” Larsen said. “Often, museums that have an international or national mission don’t really look at artists who are producing in their own communities the same way they search for or look at an exhibit artist that exists on the international radar.”
Scott Johnson’s exhibit, “Places Apart,” features “very dramatic, light-based sculptures,” said Claire Lukeman, a junior and museum studies minor who interned at the FAC during the summer.
Lukeman, one of many students who have interned at the FAC, said of her experience, “You get a lot of practical experience. You get to get really hands on.”
Larsen also commented on the presence of students as interns at the FAC. “We are in a very fertile place of collaboration when it comes to the Fine Arts Center, in particularly in regards to student involvement,” Larsen said.
Michael Howell, collections manager and registrar at the FAC actively looks for Colorado College students as interns and agreed with Larsen, “I have interns that I’ve had for over a year … and the fact that I get returning interns tells me I’m on the right track.”
“I want to be a museum curator and this has been a blessing. I would rather be at the Fine Arts Center than class 90 percent of the time,” Junior museum studies minor Katie Smith said. Smith has interned at the FAC since last January.
Smith is one of two interns supervised by Hillary Mannion, working on cataloguing a collection of artifacts that belongs to Colorado College, which is housed in the FAC. The official lease agreement between Colorado College and the FAC regarding this collection expires on Dec. 31, 2015. However, the two institutions will have to come to a decision regarding what to do with the collection in the upcoming year.
The collection of artifacts is a remnant from the years when Colorado College had its own museum space in Palmer Hall starting in 1885 and is mostly comprised of cultural objects from the Southwest and various natural history relics. When the museum closed in 1965, its collection was divided between the Denver Museum of Natural History, The American Numismatic Association at Colorado Springs and the Taylor Collection in the FAC.
“We’re still in the process of investigating what we have and what the best possible disposition of the collection is,” Larsen said, regarding the Taylor Collection housed at the FAC.
Although both the FAC and Colorado College have not yet reached a decision on what to do with the collection, Larsen said both institutions are in agreement that they want to do what is best for the collection so that it affords access to the collection for scholars, students, and the general public for research and general enjoyment.
It is clear that Colorado College and the Fine Arts Center are tied to each other in more than just geographic proximity. The relationship between the two is expanding in many fronts and CC is taking advantage of the FAC as a resource.
“Through the involvement of myself, Jessica and the intern, I’ve had more classes come over, more faculty take an interest in the Fine Arts Center and more students requesting to work in collections,” Howell said.
The Fine Arts Center is an amazing resource for Colorado College. Although it appears as though the connection between the two institutions is strengthening, the best way students can help, outside of volunteering and interning, is by making visits to the FAC. “The Fine Arts Center has a lot of regionally relevant artwork as well as having this much broader national scope,” Lukeman said. “CC students should utilize it more because it’s right next door.”