River Campus Art Studios Open New Windows of Opportunity for Students, Faculty

Photo of student working in an art studio.

The five art “factories,” which are located in the lower level of the River Campus performance building, include studios for drawing, painting, printmaking, fibers and a design and color lab.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Oct. 1, 2007 – When Southeast Missouri State University’s art students set foot in their new studios at River Campus this fall, they began working in what look like “small factories,” says Pat Reagan, chair of Southeast’s Department of Art.

“This is a good thing,” Reagan said, smiling, “because that’s what studios are. A studio’s purpose is to be a small factory that produces art objects from scratch. The River Campus studios are more functional than what we once had. There are no immaculate white walls, no ceilings, no unnecessary furniture – essentially a small factory,” she said.

The five art “factories,” which are located in the lower level of the River Campus performance building, include studios for drawing, painting, printmaking, fibers and a design and color lab. 

 The studios also offer large windows, bringing a lot of natural light into the studios, which is much better for artists than the florescent lights in the current studios, Reagan said.

And those aren’t the only benefits the new studios offer over their predecessors.

The studios are interconnected, a layout which allows students to practice very contemporary approaches to art, according to Reagan.

“The students can easily work back and forth between the studios with mixed media,” Reagan said. “For instance, a student can be working on a design in the design studio and then walk through to the fibers studio and print the design on cloth. Traditionally, art forms were kept separate. Now faculty and students like the idea of mixing media. It is a much more contemporary approach,” she said.

An added benefit to the studios’ floor plans is the addition of faculty offices located in the studios, allowing faculty members to easily multitask between professional and office duties and assisting students in the studios, Reagan said.

New equipment purchased for the River Campus studios also is assisting students in their quest to create contemporary art. The equipment, which includes two new presses in the printmaking studio and two new computer looms with wide-format printers in the fibers studio, is allowing students and faculty to expand their art into new areas, especially digitally.

“The printmaking presses is providing an interface between digital photography, printing and traditional printing,” Reagan said. “The combined techniques of photography, computer prints, traditional lithography and even drawing are very innovative.

“The computer looms and printers in the fibers studio are allowing us to create textile design on the computer and print it on fabric 45 to 50 inches wide. This technology is not available in many art schools,” she added.

The drawing studio is equipped with digital cameras, which gives students the opportunity to photograph their work and project it on a screen in order to critically analyze their drawings.

“Students are immediately able to go back into their drawings and make improvements because of the objectivity of the projected photography of their work,” Reagan said.

Every studio also has computers and digital projection systems, giving professors the opportunity to show images of current art done in museums and galleries around the country.

In addition to expanding their horizons, the new studios are keeping students safer as well.

“These studios are designed for the art form,” Reagan said. “We will no longer be using studios originally designed for some other purpose. These studios have ventilation systems and specific areas for cleaning up. The sinks are equipped with large sprayers to clean silk screens, brushes and fabric. We have supply rooms and work rooms, including chemical mixing rooms. The work that supports the studio will not have to be done right in the studio, which makes the studio safer and gives us more space,” she said.

“An environment designed for its function is ideal,” Reagan said, a sentiment no doubt echoed by many of the faculty and students thrilled with the opening of River Campus.

“We all dare to dream, and this dream worked,” Reagan added.