Department of Art & Design awarded grant to help expand facilities

by Dashanee Hunter | Staff Writer

The University of Indianapolis Department of Art & Design has been located in Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, along with the Department of Music, for over two decades, according to Associate Professor and Director in the Department of Art and Design Katherine Fries. Though the students and faculty have been quite creative with sharing the minimum space they have been given, it has ultimately been a challenge trying to make space for some of their bigger projects, such as sculptures and printmaking, Fries said. To help with this, a grant was given to the Department of Art & Design, according to UIndy 360. 

The grant was awarded for $100,000 by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation to aid the Department of Art & Design opportunities for UIndy students, according to UIndy 360. This grant will help expand the department’s size from 15,000 square feet to 26,000 square feet, according to UIndy 360. 

Receiving this grant will ultimately give the art students the space they need and deserve to do the projects they want to put their time into, and it will allow for the professors to teach more classes geared towards their students to meet their goals, Fries said.

The Department of Art & Design is nearly 100 years old, and during this time, there have been several changes, Fries said. She said that when Christel DeHaan was built, there were three to four faculty members and about 40 major students but now, there are eight to nine faculty members and about 130 majors. 

“In the 20-plus years of living in Christel DeHaan, we’ve added majors and programs and have just continued to expand and have more offerings for our UIndy students,” Fries said.

 In that time period, the department has grown with students and programs, according to Associate Professor and Art & Design Department Chair Jim Viewegh. With the new programs and increased enrollment, the Art & Design Department needed more space and they have been working on locating and reimagining the spaces that are on campus for a few years, Fries said. 

The department now has sculpture, animation/digital illustration, and printmaking majors, said Viewegh. According to Fries, she teaches printmaking, but due to the lack of space, she cannot teach printmaking subjects that other universities have. 

“One of the nice things about being in our department is we’re a department of problem solvers and we’ve certainly made the most of our time and spaces in Christel DeHaan, but it’s going to be nice now to expand outward and to have even better facilities for our students,” Fries said. 

 All the programs are assisting the department and building enrollment by having more options for students, so more space is needed to house all those things, Viewegh said. The department has been problem solving, Fries said.

 “We’re nationally accredited, so that means we have certain standards we have to meet too to make sure our programs are up to date but that also puts us on the same playing field as schools like Herron over at IUPUI and Ball State and those sort of things,” Viewegh said. 

Though the department has been awarded the grant, Viewegh said he does not know the exact status yet. With the help of Stephanie Hays-Mussoni, associate vice president of development in the Office of University Advancement, they have now started working on a financial campaign for Art & Design to help with the new annex, Viewegh said. 

“I think it [the grant] helps us get closer to our goal, and our goal is to make sure that our facilities, whether they be in Christel DeHaan, or the new Art Annex, are really equipped and outfitted to enable our students to meet their goals,” Fries said. “They’re coming to us to learn how to be creative professionals in the fields of art and design and we want to give them as many transformative experiences as possible and by getting this grant allows us to expand our spaces which allows us to offer more things to our students which ultimately means that you guys get to enjoy your art classes whether you’re a non-major or meet your professional goals if you are an art major.”

The students are coming to the faculty to learn to be creative professionals in the field of art and design, and the faculty ultimately want the experience to be  transformative, Fries said. According to Viewegh, the goal now is to have the new annex open and ready to go when classes begin next August. This will include renovating the facilities building and Christel DeHaan to make use of the space that will be left open there, Viewegh said.

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