Breaking the Mold: Arts in the College Union
“Art is a verb. It’s about the process,” says Wheelhouse Director Jay Ekleberry. “The process and creative endeavor is where you learn, where you interact and where you build social capital.”
Jay and the Wheelhouse Studios staff are committed to providing a place to break the normal routine, to connect and to foster creative thinking. Though Wheelhouse Studios just recently opened, it’s already a campus destination for art-makers. In one studio students paint mini-masterpieces while in another, a group of community members attend a workshop to learn digital photography.
The new space remains faithful to the tenets of the original Craftshop which opened in 1930 under the Union’s first director, Porter Butts. Butts, who believed in promoting a campus space that incorporates art in everyday life, wrote in The College Union Idea, “The Union of its very nature is the center of artistic as well as social experience,” Porter wrote.
The Craftshop evolved over the years, offering out-of-classroom creative experiences through programs like Mini Courses and Free Art Fridays which mirrored artistic trends and interests on campus. Now revitalized and reimagined in its expanded and reconfigured venue in the west wing’s lower level, the new Wheelhouse Studios is now a contemporary art-maker space offering new equipment like pottery kilns, a laser cutter and an art print press.
With jobs, classes, homework and various extracurriculars, life on campus can be demanding, hectic and stressful. Jay says this makes access to art even more important.
“Art is a social springboard to face-to-face interaction,” says Jay, “It gets the students and faculty outside the bureaucracy, the academia and the high-stress lifestyle. That’s what the Union is all about. Painting a picture, throwing a pot, or simply stopping by to enjoy the space–they all create a common bond for those involved.”
To Jay, Wheelhouse Studios is the perfect place to walk in, change pace and unleash your inner artist.
To learn more about arts opportunities in the Union, check out the Wheelhouse Studios page.