Photo by Cole Stratton

University of West Georgia art students had the opportunity to leave their own stamp on the new Visual Arts Building as the university community celebrated the grand opening on Aug. 28.

During the building phase of the new facility, architects worked with current art students to create a wall made from glazed bricks.  The artistic design of the wall was no small task; the students had to glaze and fire each brick in the kiln.  After the bricks had been prepared, the architect laid the bricks out on the floor, created his design and formed the colorful, student inspired wall.

“I love putting my name on things,” said Michael Leblanc, senior sculpture major. “That is what my art is. To have it on a building like this, I feel really appreciated, especially getting a brick from the architects who designed the ceramic wall.  That was really cool and really surprising.”

The four students and professor who spent hours creating the piece of artwork received a brick to commemorate their accomplishment.

These students were able to leave their stamp on a building that is much more functional than the former art annex.  The annex had been a part of the art department since the early 1970s and offered 8,500 square feet of working space.  After moving into the Visual Arts Building, the art department now found themselves with around 25,000 square feet of working space.

“The Visual Arts building gives me enough space to work.  In the old art annex advanced, intermediate and beginning sculpture students, or classes, were stuck in a very small room,” said Leblanc. “Now I have my own personal studio so I don’t disrupt any teachers and I am able to work on my own in peace.  It is really rewarding and a privilege to have a space like this.”

In its first full semester of holding classes, the Visual Arts Building is housing classes from the 1000-level up to the upper division 4000-level graduate classes.  All classes fall into four categories: print making, ceramics, 3-D foundations and sculpture.  The facility offers studios specific to the different concentrations, allowing for a more functional and safe environment.

“The space was designed and built with the specific practices in mind.  One of the most important aspects is proper ventilation,” said Kevin Shunn, chairman and associate director of the Department of Art.

Moving forward, the department believes the Visual Arts Building will help draw more interest in the program.  Presently, there are 300 majors in the Department of Art with room for growth in the new facility.  Also, as the department progresses towards a different type of graduate program, the new space will open many opportunities.

“A great facility like this means a lot more possibilities not only for us, but for the whole student body,” said Daniel McMillan, senior. “It is a lot easier to do what we need to do to become more successful at what we do.”

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