A hallway of inspiration

The VMMC building has new art installations for the campus community to enjoy. This three-story building is one of the four buildings that make up the quad, surrounding the Firstenburg Family Fountain in the center of campus. VMMC hosts various disciplines and faculty offices, but one thing never leaves this building: the arts.

The main hallway on the first floor leading to these rooms is the showstopper. Professors in the department constantly post and rotate student work on the walls of the hallway, allowing anyone who passes to get a taste for what is happening in these artistic classes throughout the semester. The hallway turns into a gallery of its own, highlighting student projects and talent.

One particular project displayed right now is from the course Drawing I taught by fine art assistant professor Avantika Bawa. Black cutout images of various scenes and sizes are posted along the wall of the hallway, from a winded tree and Halloween scene, to Hercules and roadrunner. Bawa describes the development of this project as both “beautiful and bizarre.”

“This project is the result of understanding composition and proportion. I wanted students to take their understanding of working with shape, space and proportion and respond to a site so that there was something more interactive out there [in the hallway] and therefore more challenging and fun,” said Bawa.

After referencing the work of American artist Kara Walker, who creates installations in response to the oppression felt by African Americans, students were inspired to create their own installations with the parameters completely open, said Bawa. Installations are an art form that is site-specific and is designed to transform the perception of the space it is in.

After being put into groups, students each created their own concept for the project and got to work. Tamara Uldell, senior in anthropology, describes this project as, “using negative space, shape and placement to project an image or scene.”

Uldell and a classmate chose to create an optical illusion with squares and lines to fool the eyes of passersby. The lines of their work seem as if they are not parallel, but they really are.

“[Fine arts allows] thinking outside the box that is different from your regular academia. You can sit there and be creative and use a different part of brain to really be more spatial and visual,” said Uldell.

Although this is Uldell’s first fine art class at WSU Vancouver, she has taken many art classes in the past and draws regularly. In comparison with other campus art departments, Uldell thinks the hallway in VMMC is inspiring.

“Here [in the hallway] everyone is walking by and a lot of art classes are in this area, so you can get inspired by other peoples work and become interested in the other art classes. Everything is state of the art here and this is a newer campus. It is more hands on and you get more interaction with fellow classmates and instructors,” said Uldell.

For professor Bawa, getting a wide range of talent in a beginning drawing class is completely normal. Some students come into the class with no prior experience and some with years of practice. She pushes them to fully delve in to the arts, and sees improvement with more time commitment and effort.

Sharon Tyre, a freshman majoring in human development, had no previous experience in drawing and describes the class as challenging. She thought it would be a fun class to take with her daughter, who is also a student.

“This class has a lot of work but I am learning more about art than I ever did.

I could not draw a straight line even with a ruler to begin with. I am doing better and learning a lot on how to draw in different perspectives,” said Tyre.

Bawa is on her fourteenth year of teaching. Previously teaching in Georgia for 10 years, she is starting her fourth this year at WSU Vancouver. She explains that the critical thinking and creative application in drawing is especially important in this new day and age where everything is a “pixel-pushed, perfect commodity.”

“Drawing and fine art offers to you a new way of thinking, new way of looking and a totally different way of being. We still need to reconnect with the human aspect of making and thinking and being. It adds the tactility that is needed in making,” said Bawa.

Bawa and her colleagues are constantly showcasing student work in the hallway of VMMC. Venture in the building and discover the possibilities. Take a fine arts class and create your possibilities.

Student, Sharon Tyre, shows off her artwork

Student, Sharon Tyre, shows off her artwork

Fine Arts

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