“McKendree’s Need for a More ‘Art Friendly’ Environment”

By Kayla Morelan. Published April 25, 2011.

McKendree University has established many successes from its talented students. The talent that has prospered from active students has definitely made McKendree University thrive in achievement. Students who have chosen this university have shown great interest in various sports, debate, music, theater, and even a more overlooked activity, art.

The art department at McKendree University offers many options for our students’ creative minds. Sculpture, figure drawing, photography, print making, design, ceramics, and painting are all options for art majors, or even those who take art just for the enjoyment. For those of you who aren’t familiar with art, it could quite possible be one of the most expensive hobbies a student can have.

Mr. David L. Ottinger, M.F.A., Professor of Art, stated that students, on average, spend hundreds of dollars a year on supplies for their art classes, not including books. Fine Arts Major, Allison Schenck, is a Senior at McKendree and is currently enrolled in 6 art classes at the 300/400 level and on average, spends $300-500 a semester just on supplies. “It’s expensive,” Schenck reveals, “I have to rely on coupons and gift cards/gifts.” Prices of supplies for many perspiring artists at McKendree can and are setbacks in their creativity for current or future works of art. “I feel it’s important for students to have their own personal supplies… you develop a taste for your own likes and dislikes,” stated Ottinger.

Students not only experience setbacks due to financial costs of supplies, but because the university does not provide them with the most up to date environment. McKendree’s art department has been using the old Benson Wood Library since 1969 as a workshop for those enrolled in art courses. Benson Wood is one of the oldest buildings at McKendree, and one of the only buildings on campus that still does not have air conditioning. “It’s constantly been worked on, new roof, windows, etc., but there’s always more to do. It’s really one of the prettiest buildings on campus; beautifully designed.” said Ottinger. “The building’s overall maintenance should be better, I think getting rid of the old stuff lying around and giving the art dept a true cleaning would be nice,” stated Schenck. Other than air conditioning and a good cleaning, some students have suggested building more storage for artwork and supplies. “Storage for students would be great especially if the storage units were lockable,” agreed Schenck.

Despite the needed renovations and funds for the art department and its students, more importantly, the students need to broaden their art experiences.

The Art Club has been inactive for five years, but will be reactive sometime next year. The club was established so students could be involved in art outside of school. Taking field trips to galleries, entering into art shows, and even traveling as far as D.C. and New York to see museums are all opportunities that young inspiring artists should have. “The major here is growing, just in my last 3 years we have gained more students into the program. I think if fundraising was done along with trips to graduate programs and museums, it would inspire further growth as artists,” exposed Schenck. The Art Club, once reactivated, has the power to put together fundraisers to help pay for activities and supplies for students. Ottinger agrees that it’s a wonderful idea, “[The Art Club] is limited only by the imagination of the members it’s taking.”

With the growth of talented artists at McKendree, it is only fair to showcase their talent and hard work just as athletes’ awards are proudly seen in the MPCC. Currently, only some of students’ artwork is hung in the library on campus, due to unavailable space. “We should be allowed installation art on campus and have our work represented in
all the buildings,” suggested Schenck.

All art majors would agree with Ottinger that the biggest thing needed is a gallery for the department. “It allows students to showcase their artwork in an environment designed for that purpose, just as a football player plays on a field, and a tennis player plays on a court. So why should an art major showcase their artwork in a library?” questioned Ottinger.

“I feel that the school should allow bigger better art shows with more attention to artists on campus,” suggested Schenck. The Art Club, in this specific situation, can be a great deal of help to the department. As fundraising activities proceed, art students can use those funds to help pay for supplies, educational trips, art show entries, and most importantly, art shows that display the various creations of our talented artists at McKendree University.

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