For several years there has been discussion among the visual arts faculty about creating a more functional and aesthetically pleasing space for art students, and now that discussion is leading to fruition. Thanks to an anonymous donation of $2.6 million from a loyal, long-time supporter, construction on the new Snyder Center for the Visual Arts will begin in August.
“A quarter of Marlboro students do some sort of visual arts as part of their Plan of Concentration,” said ceramics professor Martina Lantin, who has headed up the “user’s group” of faculty and students that worked with the Gensler architectural firm. “The goal in this is not to have any more space, but to make the spaces more integrated and healthy, and to allow a more flexible pedagogy. We are seeking to break down the perceived barriers within and between disciplines.”
By consolidating the visual arts areas at Marlboro, the new center will eliminate the need to transport ceramic work from the studio, in the basement of the Woodward art building, across the road to the kiln shed, originally the college sugarhouse. Other challenges within the existing structure include needing to carry water down the walkway and stairs to the Perrine sculpture studio for any plaster sculptures, and the division between studio photography in Woodward and digital photography in the library. The new structure will also permit the inclusion of the film and video program in the same space as other visual arts.
With a total area of nearly 14,000 square feet on three floors, the Snyder Center will be built south of Woodward, forming a small quad between Woodward, Baber, and the new structure itself. The low-sloping roof of the center will echo the topography of the existing slope, and preserve daylight exposure for existing buildings on the quad. The new building will include classrooms, a gallery space, a digital media lab, student studios, ceramics studio, sculpture studio, and welding area. It will replace Perrine, but the welding area, named for local artist and long-time professor Gib Taylor, will be incorporated into the new structure.
“It has been really rewarding working with the architects,” said Martina. “They asked interesting questions about our curriculum, and what kind of culture we want the space to generate. The new space will not only make collaboration between visual arts faculty more seamless, but will invite more collaboration with our colleagues in other disciplines or with visiting faculty. The comfortable classrooms, the gallery and presentation spaces, it all opens up the potential for more cross-disciplinary conversations.”