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Works of Art: Enhanced facilities anchor PC’s new visual arts district

Dr. Joan R. Branham, professor of art  history, talks about the new labyrinth  in the East Campus arts district with,  from left, Patricia Krupinski ’16,  Conor Reid ’16, Griffin Goudreau ’16,  and Jenna Lavallee ’16.

Dr. Joan R. Branham, professor of art
history, talks about the new labyrinth
in the East Campus arts district with,
from left, Patricia Krupinski ’16,
Conor Reid ’16, Griffin Goudreau ’16,
and Jenna Lavallee ’16.

Editor’s Note: A liberal arts education embraces all forms of art, recognizing each for its unique role in the development of students. This package focuses on distinct slices of visual art: a new campus arts district; a biology course in which research is enriched by state-of-the-art microscopes, cameras, and software; and a creative hub for theatrical productions, the Costume Shop.

Anyone looking for the core of the visual arts at Providence College should follow the new brick road.

A $100,000 Champlin Foundations grant helped fund a significant portion of the creation of an arts district on the East Campus.

The road to Hunt-Cavanagh Hall and the Service Building has been replaced with a brick and granite pedestrian pathway. An etched granite labyrinth is the centerpiece of the plaza between Hunt-Cavanagh and the Service Building. The labyrinth is a scaled replica of the one in the 13th century Gothic cathedral in Chartres, France.

The footpath ends at an outdoor classroom that features an analemmatic sundial — a timepiece designed for the location. When the viewer stands on the spot for the current date, the cast shadow points at the present time.

“The medieval labyrinth and calibrated sundial are great representations of the arts and sciences literally in stone,” said Dr. Joan R. Branham, professor of art history and chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

A handicapped-accessible path curves around the sundial and behind Hunt-Cavanagh to the art garden, an outdoor classroom completed in 2012. It is a nature lab with unusual plantings to inspire artists, and its gravel surface is ideal for setting up easels. It has outdoor lighting for gallery openings and evening events.

The scope of the work included improved drainage in the area as well as reinforcing the pathway, which has tunnels beneath it dating from the East Campus’ former use as a hospital.

Students drawing in a studio in the Service Building are, from left, Mackenzie Ziegler ’15, Ashley Coutu ’15, and  Emily Smith ’14.

Students drawing in a studio in the Service Building are, from left, Mackenzie Ziegler ’15, Ashley Coutu ’15, and
Emily Smith ’14.

Improvements inside and out

Changes are evident inside as well. The Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery has new flooring that’s actually old. The reclaimed maple hardwoods from the Balsams Resort in New Hampshire date back to 1917, the year Providence College was founded. Improved lighting and new, coordinated benches invite visitors to linger.

In addition, for a second year, senior studio art majors have a dedicated space in the Service Building to produce pieces for their thesis shows. Previously, students constructed pieces in dorm rooms or would hang works-in-progress in one of the drawing studios. The studio was formerly used by PC’s facilities staff but now sports track lighting, work tables, and easels.

Grant Bay ’14 paints in a new space for senior studio art majors in the Service Building.

Grant Bay ’14 paints in a new space for senior studio art majors in the Service Building.

“Work has just been pouring out of this space and into the galleries,” said Branham.

“Not only do the new studios allow more room for production, they bring my classmates and me closer,” said Emily Smith ’14 (West Islip, N.Y.), a studio painting major and art history minor. “I work privately but also have a community of artists surrounding me.”

Studio painting major Grant Bay ’14 (Chicago, Ill.) also expressed his gratitude. “The new studio space has allowed me to generate work to my maximum potential and has provided ample space for experimentation and creation of work that
challenges my studio practice,” he said.

A Hunt-Cavanagh room once home to the College’s art collection will be a seminar room for upper-level art history courses. The collection is moving to a climate-controlled facility in St. Catherine of Siena Hall.

Two other projects round out the changes. The former chapel in Guzman Hall, used for dance rehearsals, has been converted into a large auditorium. It boasts advanced projection equipment for showing films and the largest projection screen on campus, said Mark F. Rapoza ’90SCE, assistant vice president for facilities and planning. New dance studios have been constructed in former seminar rooms in Moore Hall, he said.

Liz F. Kay

Read more: Behind the scenes: Costume Shop stitches the color into every campus production

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