Art after dark: Diligent artists burn the midnight oil
UALR students pull late nights at the Fine Arts building working on projects. The doors of the building are open until midnight so that students can work on their projects in ceramics, sculpting and print making. If a student is inside before midnight, they can still get out after midnight.
“I have had campus security come to lock the building and they asked me how long I would be,” said Rebecca Hancock, an Art Education major.
The Fine Arts building is divided into sections with studios for different art focuses. The studios are always open, with the exception of the photo lab.
Students and teachers share ideas in class,and students are taken through the process of how to approach the idea. The ideas for projects are then critiqued, and students are shown how they might expand on the idea.
Professors ask students to put as much time and effort into their work outside of class as they do in class.
“If I could, I would build a room so students could sleep here and always work on their projects,” said ceramics instructor David Smith, when talking about how much work students put into their projects.
“Back in the ‘90s a student stayed in the building all night and fell asleep on one of the benches in the hallway,” said sculpting instructor Michael Warrick, “and when a former administrator saw him she said, ‘let’s get this homeless guy out of here,’” the student had to explain who he was.
Most students, such as Photography Major Dylan Yarbrough, “try to stay until 11:00 p.m. once or twice a week,”.
Students said they feel like they get more work finished at night. Hancock said she worked from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and DPS asked when she would be leaving, so they could lock up after her. She said professors notice when students stay late and show dedication to the class.
Students have jobs or families, and the university tries to help with schedules by keeping the building open. “We try to be convenient as possible,” Warrick said.
In the ceramics and sculpting studios, there are tools students use to work on their projects. The power tools may be used when a studio monitor is there, otherwise the tools are locked, “for safety reasons,” said Warrick. The lab assistants stay in the studios until 10:00 p.m. “Students learn how to use the tools throughout the sculpting class,” said studio assistant Ryan Hunt, a Graphic Design major.
“I lose track of time- I would start at 7:00 p.m., and around 10:00 p.m. I would figure out three hours passed, but it only felt like 30 minutes.”
The photography lab has posted hours for students to edit their photos on the lab equipment. The amount of time spent on the photos depends on the project, said Yisria Baig, a studio art major with an emphasis in photography. “For the self-portraits, I spend three to four hours taking pictures and do not edit them outside of class because of the computers.”
Art History Major Jennifer Bass, said she lives an hour away and is on campus from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. “I try to work in the lab between classes,” she said.
Students edit their photos on a computer they are assigned to all semester. They purchase special print paper such as Perl or Mat paper. Pearl paper gives the photos a glossy shine, while matte is a non-glossy paper.
In the Figure Drawing classes, students work from strictly observation. “Students don’t have ‘projects’. The bulk of the class is a model on a stand and students draw what they see.” The drawings will last about two to three class periods.
In the print making studio students carve images into surfaces such as linoleum, metal, copper, aluminum, sponge, stone or wood and use inks to transfer the image on to paper.
“About 30 percent of the class comes in as much as they attend class,” said Graphic Design student Rodney Bowie.
In the ceramics studio, students are able to throw clay on the wheel and look at different glazes to apply to their work. (Glaze reinforces the pottery and adds color and shine.) Students are shown how to mix and recycle clay from the pieces they do not use. The sink in the ceramics studio has a strainer that collects the pieces rinsed from the student’s hands. Some students dig their own clay to use.
“I am from Devalls Bluff which is only 30 minutes away from the White River, and all rivers are rich with clay. So I do a lot of digging there.]],” Hancock said.
The kilns are lit once every four weeks or when there is enough clay to fill them. The studio has three kilns- two soda kilns and one wood. Students must be careful when preparing clay for the kiln and make sure the clay does not have any air bubbles in it, otherwise, the heat will cause the air to expand making the clay shatter and explode. This could also damage other projects.
In sculpting students learn to mix plaster and a cement mixture. Students make a mold out of the plaster. There is a furnace in the sculpting studio used to melt aluminum for molding. The furnace heats to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The aluminum is poured into molds and left to cool.