Consider the challenge faced by the ECLA administration in preparing for the current academic year: an enlarged student body and faculty, combined with the expansion of campus facilities still months away. The need for all to be comfortable remains an issue, so what can be done? For the sake of efficient use of space, communal areas were transformed into new student rooms and offices.
Some casualties of these changes have been the art room- previously situated in House 16- as well as installation studios in one of the Platanenstraße office buildings. Spacious rooms with white-washed walls have been equipped with fitted carpets, tables and chairs. Easels, bags of clay, and the distinct smell of oil paints have given way to closets, desks, and office paraphernalia.
Given that ECLA is a place where the examination of art is given serious academic attention and appreciation, it seems it would be self-evident that ECLA would invest in space for artistic practice. It also happens to be that the student body exhibits creative powers that need to be given a medium of expression outside the realm of academia.
It seems to me that the scope of challenges posed exclusively by academic work is too narrow to facilitate more comprehensive development of the mind. Some may believe that intellectual and artist development exist in separate realms, with each striving to advance in seemingly disparate directions, yet I believe it is not too odd to think of the relationship between these as one of mutual assistance.
Artistic and intellectual exercise, insofar they are separate, certainly do mingle in allegiance with one another, allowing one to provide the other with substance and vice versa. The successful merger of these expands our creative resources as a whole.
Some students prefer to engage in the performing arts and, accordingly, ECLA offers a studio for music, dance, and theater. Yet some would argue that the joys and pressures of rigorous intellectual work are best balanced by going crazy with paints, digging into a fine piece of clay, or composing a psychedelic spectrum of video projections. If you ask me, real stimulus is found when situated in front of a well prepared canvas, knowing that it is all yours to express whatever mind-blowing composition you happen to find stirring within you at that particular moment.
With this in mind, the loss of the art room and the main installation studios leaves many students without the space to create and work on their art. This dilemma, however, gave us an opportunity to join forces and develop a common project of defining our own spaces for the visual arts, on our own terms.
Under the leadership of Josefina Capelle (AY, Argentina), Logan Woods (PY, USA), and a handful of others, the student have been working on new art studio space since the beginning of term.
“Although ECLA is not an art school, many ECLA students think it is important to have a special place to work on self-expression through visual arts and sculpture.” Josefina says. “I know there is a need for an art room. Many people were disappointed in not having an art room this year and everybody was really supportive when the idea of reopening it came out, and many even volunteered to help even though they were not participating in it.”
Her expectations on the project as a whole? “I would love for ECLA students who are into art to find a place where they can do stuff together, share their own experience and also techniques and eventually do something with this, as a way to then share it with the rest of the ECLA community”, says Josefina, who takes a personal interest in oil painting. Logan summarized saying, “Our goal is to provide for all skill levels, so that everyone feels welcome. I think it is going to be a great addition to campus life.”
Currently, the team has finalized most of the preparatory tasks with excellence. There is a clear sense of where the new studio is going to be, what the prospective practitioners want, where to make cost effective purchases, and how to organize the labor required for getting the place in shape. As the deadline for the budget presentation grows near, details are being fine-tuned: final decisions on paints, clay and necessary tools are made while expectations on campus are mounting.
If all goes well, the art studio will open its doors in the basement of the former installation building on Platanenstraße 98 within a couple of weeks. Until then, we continue to use the margins of our notebooks and hand-outs for scribbling sketches and designs which hope to be taken to higher grounds. Once all is set and done, maybe they will.
For those interested in contributing to the art room initiative, contact Josefina for more information.
by Emma Hovi (2nd year BA, Finland)