Someone once told “Virginia” that indeed there is a Santa Claus. And I know from experience that dreams often do come true. As we begin a new year, I am anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of my own dream, to teach art in an optimum environment. LSUA is well on the way to the opening of our new building. Completion is scheduled for the coming spring with everything up and ready to go for the fall 2011 semester. The arts facilities have been a long time coming, and we have earned it. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would be able to boast about something so extravagant in these economic times, but funds were allocated long before our current economic crisis. Several times in the past, we have been on the budget slate for this building only to be erased at the eleventh hour. Over twenty-five years ago, plans were being made and committees meeting in anticipation of this facility. Finally, we have reached the fruition of our dream.
The nice thing about this culmination is that we have never ceased to plan and prepare for the day that our building would become an actuality. Lecture and studio classes have continued to grow and keep abreast with modern trends in the arts. Our faculty members are well prepared to step into this state-of-the-art teaching facility. With a tight economy and funding for the arts at such a critical stage, we may well find that arts activities will shift from the museum/gallery to the academic environment. And there has certainly been a trend to keep academic study in tandem with modern technology.
Our building will accommodate computer-enhanced teaching. Classrooms will be set up to take advantage of a more international approach to learning. Rather than the older textbook and slides method, arts history and appreciation courses will be able to place the student in the theatre, museum, or concert hall. Many textbooks are aligned to computer programs allowing students to enlarge their base of learning. Photography studios will include both digital processing and wet labs for film. Students may avail themselves of one or both techniques.
Ceramics labs will provide a setting for multiple methods, from the older hand building techniques such as Native American styles to modern methods using electric wheels. We will have the equipment to prepare our own clay. Kilns will include gas reduction firing, raku, and electric oxidation firing. The kilns will be large enough to accommodate clay sculpture. We will be able to make our own glazes for the different clay types, no longer having to rely on commercial products. Drawing and painting will be taught in a beautiful facility with the latest equipment.
A sculpture garden will be located outside the building. Students will be able to work in this area, painting en plain aire, reading and studying, photographing, and pottery building. While the main Gallery will remain in the Student Union Building, there will be space to exhibit at theatre and musical events. I cannot say enough about the fine work of our architects. They have worked closely with the faculty in the planning. You know this sort of thing all began with the Roman architect, Vitruvius, who set in motion a standard that has continued into modern times. From Vitruvius to Alberti to Palladio, Wren, Gibbs, and our own Jeffersonian style, architecture has played a major role in the arts. We are blessed by their expertise and grateful for their forward-looking ideas.
Our faculty is well qualified to meet the challenges of this new facility. We draw on a long tradition of international study and backgrounds are strong in all of the areas that we offer. All of us continue to be active in our chosen disciplines as both working artists-performers and teachers. In the past we have brought students to The Source with our travel courses, a tradition we hope to continue. Now we will finally have the materials with which to provide our students an exemplary arts education. This long-neglected area on our campus will boldly march into the 21st century with our faculty right in step.
A major goal of our program is to reach out into the community. While we have long encouraged community participation in our arts programs and events, we will now be able to expand our outreach to area high schools and other arts organizations. While the statewide academic community continues to hold its collective breath as the legislature does its thing, we are confident that we are progressing in the right direction toward the future of the arts in Central Louisiana. Yes, dreams do come true, and after 40+ years on the LSUA faculty, I am ever so glad to see this one come to pass!