Inspiring Community and Increasing Campus Presence: UC Clermont Upgrading Art Department


Envision warm rays of sunlight bathing a spacious room with their luminosity, encompassing a hub of creativity with incandescent radiance. This appealing vision is soon to be manifest at UC Clermont in the form of a new and improved art lab, intended to provide a space in which art students can efficiently create two-dimensional artwork such as drawings, paintings, prints, etc.

The new lab will be intended and well-suited for two-dimensional art projects; the current lab, while used for such projects, is better-suited for arts such as weaving, sculpting, and working with mediums such as fibers. According to Kelly Frigard, Professor of Fine Art and Co-Area Coordinator of Fine Art, the new art lab may feature concrete or another type of durable flooring in order to provide an optimal space for working with a variety of mediums.  The art lab will also have plenty of easels for painting and drawing (as opposed to the cumbersome desks more suitable for three-dimensional projects in the current classroom) as well as taborets to hold supplies. “We hope to also have an expedition space,” revealed Professor Frigard in an interview relating to the project.

But don’t start planning your visit yet—the art lab is still a work in progress. Currently, fundraising for the project is underway; the ultimate goal is $200,000.  Fundraising such as benefit concerts are helping to raise the necessary money. A concert held on November 14th of last semester—Rhapsody in Blue (featuring Michael Chertock)—was one such fundraiser. Grants are being applied for as well with the help of several proponents.

A location for the art classroom has not yet been determined, but it will preferably be located somewhere within the vicinity of the current lab, which is room 153 of Snyder.

The plans for this art center are broad, in both a literal and figurative sense. The new art classroom will be used not only for art and art history classes, but also for a vast array of other programs. These programs, which may include workshops for children, hybrid classroom settings, and other art-oriented enterprises, will ideally increase UC Clermont’s art programs’ presence both on campus and within the community. Kelly Frigard’s vision is that “the art lab will give UC Clermont a greater visibility within the UC campus” and prepare students for the experiences they will have at a four-year university, whether that be through exposing students to a variety of classroom settings or teaching them to be attentive students and professional employees. She also intends that UC Clermont become a destination for the arts in the area and provide economically-feasible and family-friendly experiences.

Getting local constituents—especially children—onto UC Clermont’s campus is also a major goal of the project. As Professor Frigard said, the opportunity for families to come to UC Clermont for activities and programs is a win-win situation. “How can you lose,” she says, regarding UC Clermont’s Fine Arts Samplers (coordinated by Nikki Vargas, Community Arts Director) when community members are “coming to UC Clermont on a Saturday to make art with [their]kids?”

Another benefit of this opportunity will be getting children of Clermont County acquainted with local colleges, such as UC Clermont, which will ultimately help them to visualize their abstract and often intimidating perception of college, according to Professor Frigard. One way the college is already achieving this is through the Calico Theatre, which offers family-friendly plays on UC Clermont’s campus for a minimal fee. These plays are performed by groups such as the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, and introduce the concept of live dramas and theatrical performances to children who may not otherwise have the opportunity for such experiences.

The ongoing development of UC Clermont’s new art lab is a tasking endeavor, and could not be accomplished without an incredible group of people, each working toward the same goal. Several people besides Professor Kelly Frigard have been directly involved with the project. These include Kim Taylor, Associate Professor of Fine Art and Co-Coordinator of the Art Program; Steve Hegge, who is involved in overseeing grant applications; Thomas Dinsmore, Department Chair of the English, Languages, and Fine Arts Areas; and Dana Parker and Mindi Hilgeman, both of whom work in the UC Clermont Development Office and are involved in organizing the fundraisers that have made a new art center possible). Finally, UC Clermont’s Dean Bauer is managing the layout and location of the new art center along with other deans, who are collaborating to design campus-wide master plans.

The physical space will be the most important part of the new art classroom, according to Professor Kelly Frigard. The new lab will have the ability to accommodate students much more comfortably than the current lab. Besides students, the classroom will be spacious enough to store supplies, equipment, and necessary furniture such as easels. Most importantly, the new lab will have windows, providing fresh air, inspiring views of the outdoors, and sunlight.  Ultimately, the lab will have all of the components necessary to stimulate and encourage creativity. Professor Frigard is a big believer in the idea that there is more to creating inspiring art than simply a space in which to work. Artistic revelation is a state of mind that involves external inspiration in addition to internal insight. “In order to be creative,” states Professor Frigard, “you need sunlight.”  And with the plans currently underway, new art students will get plenty of that—and so much more.


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