McWethy Hall was for 44 years the campus gymnasium
drawing students for crowded basketball games, steamy
aquatic shows, excruciating wrestling meets, and shimmering
all-school formal dances. The maple gym floor—
on which 12 conference championships were claimed
in wrestling and four in men’s basketball—now supports
easels and tables in two large studio classrooms. A new
fourth-floor mezzanine level
houses private studios for
senior art majors, who enjoy 24-hour access to secure
studios while preparing for their senior thesis exhibitions,
the capstone to their Cornell careers.
Jessica Hoffman works on her senior thesis show.
“Even some graduate schools don’t provide work
space for art students,” says department chairman
Tony Plaut ’78. Having student and faculty studio
space in one building “sets our program apart and creates
a special climate.”
“An auxiliary benefit is that the students witness
the life and methods of mature and active artists, their
faculty,” Plaut says.
Students, faculty, and exhibiting artists are using
every inch of the facility, which has been outfitted with
new equipment in spacious classrooms, a darkroom, a
sculpture and ceramics room, and an annex housing
computerized kilns and a foundry. The Peter Paul Luce
Gallery, built in the former dance studio, hosts major
exhibitions and senior thesis shows.
“You can see students making art on every level of
the building with every visit,” says Plaut.
Above Left: Sophomore Nicole Harbach concentrates on her work during a painting class.
Middle: Kimberley Mersman, barefoot and busy on her senior thesis project, says, “Sometimes I need
to escape and just paint, and my own studio allows me to do that.”
Right: Senior Sara Turner trims a bowl in the ceramics room.
Above right: Tony Plaut ’78 instructs students in a life drawing class in the easel studio.
Above left: Michael Martinus paints.
Middle: Visitors admire a ceramics exhibit in the Peter Paul Luce Gallery.
Right: Ceramists Clary Illian (at left) and Guillermo Cuellar ’76 talk about their art at a closing
reception for their exhibition.