WMU to join Park Trades community of artists
Feb. 18, 2008
KALAMAZOO--As many as 15 faculty members in Western Michigan University's Frostic School of Art will soon join a growing community of artists with studio space in Kalamazoo's Park Trades Center, located near WMU in the city's downtown district.
Acting at the its Feb. 15 meeting, the WMU Board of Trustees approved a lease agreement that will mean WMU art faculty will occupy up to 10,000 square feet in the facility for up to five years at an annual cost of $50,000. Leased space in the building, which is located at the corner of Parsons and Kalamazoo streets, will accommodate up to 15 studios. As part of a special grant program, Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. will assist in covering some of the building renovation costs to make the space suitable for studio use.
"This is an opportunity to support the productivity of our studio art faculty and to collaborate more closely and in alignment with the local arts community and Kalamazoo's downtown development," says Dr. James Hopfensperger, acting dean of the College of Fine Arts. "This is wonderful space in an existing community of artists and artisans. These will be designed lofts that will offer our faculty the flexibility to produce new creative work that leads to the kind of professional recognition we expect them to achieve."
Hopfensperger says the space has high ceilings, natural light and wood floors and will be configured into studios ranging from 500 to 800 square feet. Faculty members could move from their existing studios in WMU's East Hall, which are being closed, to the Park Trades location as early as March.
"Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. is pleased that WMU art faculty will be integrating themselves into the downtown arts scene, further strengthening our downtown arts community," says DKI President Ken Nacci.
Hopfensperger notes that, while the studios will be for faculty members, studio visits are a common practice for mentored art students, and he expects students to enjoy the kind of creative synergy the initiative will generate.
"This is a wonderful show of support from the president, provost and business office for our faculty and students," he says. "And the contribution of DKI shows the community's continued support for the Kalamazoo arts community."
WMU's Frostic School of Art is part of the College of Fine Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The school has 21 full-time and 18 part-time faculty members as well as nine professional staff members who serve 2,500 University students, including 450 art majors. The Frostic School of Art offers degrees in art, art education, graphic design, and art history. Its areas of concentration include ceramics, metals/jewelry, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture and graphic design.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org