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10 | Los Arcos • Summer/Fall 2013
New visual Arts Building gives students sense of community At the Visual Arts Building, you will find a place where Broncs go to flourish in artistic expression and create an eclectic collaborative studio setting. For art students and faculty at UTPA, the new facility on Closner Blvd. next to the Alumni Center may be off campus, but it has truly become a second abode where their creativity is sparked daily. "I like how we’re apart from campus and it kind of brings all the artists together," said Delany Skaarer, an undergraduate student majoring in art with a focus on painting. "Being in the same building is, like, it’s a better community feeling." UT Pan American’s Department of Art moved into the 73,000-square-foot facility from a cramped 13,000-square-foot space on the main campus to accommodate the University's growth. "With the new space we’ll be able to exhibit more student work, and we have top-level facilities for students to do whatever they want: photography, print making, sculpture, bronze casting, welding, you name it, we can do it here," said Dr. Susan Fitzsimmons, chair of the art department and professor of art. "We’ve got all the equipment we need, so it’s pretty much up to the energy and the creativity of the students." In April, the University hosted an official grand opening that dovetailed with a celebration of students' service learning projects, including an exhibit featuring work from art students. Upon entering the building, visitors can see sculptures in the main hallway and an art gallery that hosts shows highlighting students', faculty
members' and guests artists' work. Paintings hang on the walls throughout subsequent hallways that connect each discipline of the visual arts program. Master’s students have their own studio space to create. The building is equipped with kilns, a foundry to create bronze sculptures – and safety features like eye washes and updated ventilation systems. "It is such a vast improvement from the last place," Fitzsimmons said. "Everyone was so isolated from each other and there was very little contact among the faculty. This way we can all be together and see what everybody else is doing." Ismael Salinas, a senior majoring in art with a focus on graphic design, said he likes being able to visit the different areas — including photography and painting — and collaborate with fellow students in the same building. Salinas and many of his fellow art students expressed their excitement about having more space to create. Before, the visual art students had to share space with music and drama students, and some of their classes had to be held in other parts of the campus because space was so limited. A bus, dubbed "the Art Bus," won a Summit International Creative Award for its design, connects the arts building to the main campus. "To me it’s open range," said Salinas, who is also sergeant-at-arms of the student group Artists Unanimous.
UTPA Los Arcos Fall/Summer 2013