Department of Art Transforms Complex Into Art and Design District
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas and J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences are transforming a former complex into a cutting-edge educational art facility that will include sculpture workshops, classroom space and graduate student studios. The project is an effort by the faculty and staff in the Department of Art to address the need for capital renovations and equipment.
The 33,000-square-foot complex, located on Hill Street in South Fayetteville, will be redesigned and renovated in two phases by architects with Modus Studio in Fayetteville and El Dorado Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri. Phase one will focus on workshop needs for the art department’s sculpture program, and phase two will include graduate student studios and classroom space for the department’s foundation classes.
“When I became chair of the art department in 2010, the faculty identified its two most pressing needs: space and equipment,” said Jeannie Hulen, chair of the Department of Art. “Square footage is crucial. Students and faculty must have lab space and equipment for our creative research. And our facilities directly impact our recruitment and retention of top scholars.”
The university and its art department have spent the last decade strategically enhancing art programs and facilities to boost the university’s reputation as an institution that enriches, enlightens and engages its campus, as well as regional and national communities, through art. As a result, the Department of Art in Fulbright College has experienced unprecedented growth and transformation and now is positioned to match its long-term vision.
“This is truly a defining moment for the Department of Art on the University of Arkansas campus,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “The department’s faculty have led the way, and our commitment to expanding facilities and establishing new programs has positioned the university to be a key part of Northwest Arkansas’ arts destination. Today, the University of Arkansas is one of the most attractive institutions in the region for those who seek to become artists and designers, art educators, art historians and knowledgeable arts supporters.”
A $500,000 gift from the Windgate Charitable Foundation in Siloam Springs will be used toward the Hill Street renovation, as will an additional $1.5 million from the foundation for equipment.
“It is humbling and thrilling to have the support of the Windgate Foundation, a respected foundation in the arts, on a project like the Art and Design District,” said Hulen. “Their contribution will significantly enhance our department’s ability to provide an excellent student and patron experience.”
In addition to Windgate’s capital support, the foundation is also contributing $64,000 over the next two years to fund student summer residency scholarships. Undergraduate summer residencies are an important part of our student’s resume, but often are financially prohibitive for students. The foundation’s support will enable as many as 40 students to take advantage of residencies in both domestic and international arenas and will increase opportunities for networking and building portfolios as the students work to forge successful careers.
“The Windgate Charitable Foundation’s support of our initiatives is affirmation that the University of Arkansas Department of Art is moving in an upward trajectory,” said Gearhart. “Their generous contribution, which totals over $2 million, will provide us with the funding needed to bring our facilities to a new level and give students additional opportunities for global interaction with premier arts and crafts communities. All of this enhances our ability to recruit and retain the most talented faculty, staff and students while enhancing our state’s and region’s reputation for artistic excellence.”
“Chancellor Gearhart and the university’s board have clearly made a significant commitment to the art and design programs on campus,” said John E. Brown, executive director of the Windgate Charitable Foundation. “The Windgate Foundation is pleased to be a partner with the university and the Department of Art faculty by supporting this next significant step forward in academic resources and student opportunities.”
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