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Art takes center court

  McWethy Hall  

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.

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