October 15, 2021 | NEWS | By Jon Lamson | Photo by Jon Lamson
While alumni, school administrators, and students made their way to the men’s hockey game this past homecoming weekend, many of the attendees couldn’t help but pass over a colorful sidewalk mural made up of clouds, flowers, aliens, and slogans saying “Fund the Art” and “Fuck the Hockey Arena.”
The images and messages were drawn in chalk next to an open studio filled with elaborate wooden structures. A group of art students gathered in the shadows of the Robson Arena by a table covered with stuffed animals, flowers, a book of Marxist theory, and several loaves of bread. To the people passing by, the students offered up the chalk and bread.
“We decided to set up a space here where anyone walking by on their way to the game could stop and draw, make some art, and try to communicate our message that way,” said Will Cole ‘22, an art major with an Integrative Design and Architecture (IDA) concentration. “Even though we’re outside of the parking garage that replaced the 3D arts facilities, we’re still here and we’re still going to make art and keep that spirit alive.”
To make room for the $52 million hockey arena that opened this fall, the school demolished the 3D Art Workshop, which housed a large portion of the Art Department’s classrooms and studio space. The department was left fighting for a home throughout the pandemic, and currently relies on a handful of temporary spaces, including (in an ironic twist) the old Honnen Ice Arena.
According to students, this has affected their opportunities in multiple ways. “We’re in a class right now, sculpture, that would’ve been in the 3D Space, learning how to use those machines,” said art major Calaya Hudnut ‘22. “Since COVID-wise we can’t all cram into the smaller space that they gave us as a replacement, we are doing a more conceptual sculpture class.”
A sculpture class for block three has been capped at five students, while 200 and 300 level art classes this year have been limited to art majors as a result of the lost space.
“The fact that they did it is one thing, but the fact that they weren’t really communicating with us, telling us what’s going on, asking our opinion, especially for creative individuals who can think of solutions to problems, is just upsetting,” Hudnut said.
While the sculpture class is working in a small studio that was included in the new arena, the space is only a fraction of what was demolished to build the arena’s parking garage.
“The studio that they gave us is really small, and doesn’t have adequate walling for hanging up anything,” said Jasmine Linder ‘23. “I’m really angry. I don’t feel good there. I feel upset when I see [the arena] …it looks like a Chipotle on steroids.”
According to the school’s Senior Vice President Robert Moore, the initial plan was to make a permanent home for 3D Arts by moving Facility Services out of the Van Briggle Pottery Building, moving the Bemis School of Arts into Van Briggle, and use the area where the Bemis School of Arts is to build a space for 3D Arts. However, they eventually deemed the cost of this plan too high.
Currently, the school has assembled a committee of faculty, staff, and students explore and give input on a permanent home for 3D Arts. The school is still considering a range of options, such as remodeling the Honnen Ice Arena into a permanent space or proceeding with the original plan using the current site of the Bemis School of Arts.
“President Richardson told this 3D Arts Committee that resolving this issue was her top priority,” said Moore. “This is an academic program that needs space, and we need to figure this out.”
Despite the obstacles and uncertainty, many art students are still working hard to build community and a sense of belonging in whatever space they find themselves in. When the students taking Scott Johnson’s sculpture class this block were assigned a performance art group project, thoughts immediately went to the Robson Arena. The idea of an outright protest was eventually passed over. Instead, they made their statement with chalk drawings, fuzzy chairs, and freshly cooked bread.
“We wanted to engage with the community, and as part of that we thought we’d have some bread out so we could break bread with people,” said Cole. “Everything else that’s here is just stuff that makes us feel comfortable and that reminds us of home, because this school is our home just as much as it’s the home for the hockey team.”