COVID-19 has brought many challenges in regard to re-opening campus as safely as possible. One of those challenges was how to create a space for art students to utilize their capabilities while staying socially distant and avoiding contact with others’ supplies. Giving the art studios a makeover has always been a plan, but COVID-19 really sped up the process and allowed for it to happen just in time for the new school year.
Since there were restrictions on campus due to the coronavirus, this process couldn’t start until mid-July and took a total of eight weeks. The initial studio room was filled with about 50 years’ worth of furnishings.
There were three main people involved with this transformation: Jodi Staniunas-Hopper, associate professor of Art; Christina Riley-Brown, dean of Hafenmaier College; and Eileen Zinchiak, administrative assistant. These three had to go in and evaluate the furnishings and tag which things had to go.
From there they employed the maintenance department to empty the whole room and carry the old furnishings out the door. Once that was completed, the studios were re-sanitized and painted.
Then the maintenance department had to assemble all of the new supplies, which included all new drafting tables, places to set supplies, new stools and easels for painting.
To provide a better understanding of what the new studio and the new layout of the ceramics room look like, Staniunas-Hopper and Stadtmueller gave their opinions on the space.
When asked what their favorite elements of the new studios were, Staniunas-Hopper said she was excited about the fact that they are very “student-centric.” The focus of these new studios is on creating spaces for students to work in a dedicated spot and to accommodate students who paint and draw, as well as accommodating senior art thesis students.
Stadtmueller had a similar answer. She loves that everyone has their own bucket of clay, with their own tools and apron. Since this is Stadtmueller’s first year teaching ceramics, she is excited that the COVID-19 changes have allowed her to “start from square one” and work in a way that is best for her. For her that means making things “portable and manageable.”
Ceramics students now get their own worktables, six feet apart. When asked if there was anything that they would miss about the old studios, Staniunas Hopper said that she is really going to miss the character of the old studio. It had about 50 years’ worth of a studio feel to it.
She is hoping that once students start hanging their work, the studio will feel more at home and more artistic. On the other hand, Stadtmueller doesn’t miss much at all. She likes this design better, as the old one to her felt “closed and cluttered.”
Now there is a lot more room to move around, more sunlight, and students have their own space. Both Staniunas Hopper and Stadtmueller are hoping that the students can see this space more as their own, and work harder to create art to decorate the very empty real estate around them right now.
Although it was hard to let go of a beautiful, 50 year old art studio, students this year have the opportunity to make these studios their own, and to start a new era of artwork with these COVID guidelines in place.