Memorial Hall renovations continue with art studio

Maija Anstine

The September 14 opening of a new drawing studio in the former Union Grill represents the latest in ongoing renovations to Memorial Union as part of the More Light! campaign.

This new art space will house Beginning Drawing and Drawing 2 classes. Associate Professors of Art John Shimon and Julie Lindemann as well as Director of Conferences and Summer Programs Lynn Hagee were instrumental in its creation. The opening was attended by 15 students and faculty members who helped participate in the erasure of the then still-intact Grill menu.

“It was great to be offered a space dedicated to drawing so close to Wriston,” said Uihlein Fellow of Studio Art Debbie Kupinsky. “The light is great for drawing, it allows us to have privacy for the model sessions and students can leave their work out. The long wall for critiques has track lights and serves as a nice presentation area. “

According to Kupinsky, faculty in the visual arts department have been looking for an “alternative space” for some time.

The visual arts department is not the only department to benefit from the Union’s redesign; the Underground Theater may be in use as soon as Winter Term in the space out of which the Underground Coffeehouse and, more recently, the temporary Follett Bookstore used to operate.

“I’m delighted. I’m totally delighted,” said Professor of Theatre Arts and J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama Timothy X. Troy, who is already in consultation with an architect to redesign the space as both a theater and classroom space.

“We really missed the space after the Warch Center was built. Lawrence students have been using that space as a production space since I was a student here,” said Troy, who attended his first ever Lawrence theater production in the Underground Theater as a prospective student.

He plans to use the space, which he calls “intimate and accessible,” for directing classes, tutorials and student projects.

“The goal is to make it simple enough to keep it user-friendly,” Troy said. “You can get a lot done with a small space if it’s equipped smartly.”

Plans were drawn up for Memorial Union’s new identity upon the opening of the Warch Campus Center. According to Vice President for Alumni, Development and Communications Cal Husmann, this proposal included spaces for internship services, the Career Center, the Volunteer Center and classrooms for Freshman Studies. But after the economy changed in 2007, Husmann said, plans shifted to the more practical establishment of classrooms and faculty offices.

According to Hagee, renovations to the space were planned “with as much recycling and as frugally as possible.” The drawing studio in particular made deliberate use of older materials: wood tables from Colman Hall’s renovation, Union Grill countertops and coat hooks from Kohler Hall.

These improvements are part of the More Light! campaign and, according to Hagee, are aimed “to further increase our mission statement in expanding opportunities for students, whether it’s residential, like the redoing of Trever and Plantz [halls] or academic areas, to increase engagement in the university.”