Art Club Offers Free Studio Space, Instruction, and a Chance to Exhibit Work

Posted October 28th, 2010 at 11:09 am.

“What we’re really doing is running a nonprofit,” Art Club co-president Ariel Kay ’12 said during a recent Art Club executive board meeting. “It’s essential that everyone here does their part.”

Kay’s words were a reminder, not a criticism. By the looks of it, Art Club members are doing their fair share to heighten the arts presence at Bryn Mawr.

Art Club maintains Arnecliffe art studio, a fully stocked art studio located on the southeast corner of Merion Ave. and New Gulph Road. The Art Club brings Philadelphia artists to campus for free arts workshops; hosts community art night each Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at Arnecliffe for Bryn Mawr students, faculty, and staff; and teaches art classes to Overbrook Elementary second- and third-graders.

All the work is with one purpose in mind: To provide hands-on opportunities to work in the visual arts on the Bryn Mawr campus.

Bryn Mawr and Haverford combine their resources to create a full arts curriculum, with Bryn Mawr taking primary responsibility for creative writing, theater and dance, while Haverford hosts music and fine arts on its campus.

A New Use for Arnecliffe Studio

Art Club wasn’t always able to be so active. Four years ago, meetings were held in a cold, dark basement space in English House. Obtaining the Arnecliffe space has made Art Club’s diverse ventures possible.

photo: man addressing a group of students seated at a table

Artist Shu Kobo leads a workshop on kirie, the Japanese art of paper cutting, in Arnecliffe Studio

Co-president Adrienne Webb ’11 remembers the days when meetings were held in the basement of English House.

“Then, the club emphasized preparation for graduate programs in art. Members were working on putting together and maintaining their portfolios during their time at Bryn Mawr.”

But Anna Mueser ’10 envisioned a different kind of art club. When the Haverford Fine Arts Department stopped using Arnecliffe in the fall of 2008, the building’s printmaking studio stood vacant. Mueser and other Art Club members saw an opportunity.

“It seemed that, when we learned the printmaking studio was moving to Haverford, we almost immediately jumped on the idea of having the space for Bryn Mawr,” said Webb.

With the help and support of former Dean of the Undergraduate College Karen Tidmarsh, Art Club was able to obtain the space for community use. Grants from the President’s Office, Dean’s Office, and the student-run Owl Investment Group made studio renovations possible. The Facilities Services Office offered its expertise, repairing damaged walls and building tables for the studio.

In spring 2009, Arnecliffe officially opened as a community studio for Bryn Mawr.

Now, Arnecliffe is available 24/7 to all Bryn Mawr students, faculty and staff who wish to make art, anything from lino printmaking to oil painting, sewing to silkscreening. All they need to enter the studio is a 4-digit passcode, which can be obtained by contacting the Art Club executive board.

All materials in the studio are free to users; Art Club’s budget covers the cost. The club simply asks whoever uses the studio to respect the space by not removing materials and cleaning up after themselves.

Art on Campus and Off

In an effort to foster community through art, Art Club has reached out beyond Bryn Mawr’s borders, bringing Philadelphia and Norristown artists to campus to teach free workshops. Jewelry making, sewing, and batik fabric dying are being offered this fall for students, faculty, and staff.

And most recently, Angela Wang ’11 and Julia Brady ’11 have designed an arts curriculum to teach to two classes of Overbrook Elementary second- and third-graders.

Overbrook Elementary, due to budgeting constraints, does not have an art program for its students. Overbrook and Bryn Mawr have an exisiting partnership through the Civic Engagement Office, and Overbrook specifically asked Bryn Mawr to help provide arts education to their students.

“The lessons takes place Friday after lunch. It’s hard to keep two classrooms of about 20 kids focused on anything, but they were just painting away. It was really exciting,” said Wang about the first class, which focused on color theory.

On Dec. 3, Art Club will hold an all-day art-making event — known amongst the group as “The Block Party” — in the Campus Center. There, anyone passing through will have the opportunity to relax, try new things, and hang out with friends — all by making art.

It is an appropriate event for a club whose renegade ethos is “Make art, not work.”

A well-managed and highly active group, Art Club has made a name for itself at Bryn Mawr, amongst both students and administrators. With the opening of the Eva-Jane Coombe ’52 Special Collections Suite on the second floor of Canaday Library, Art Club was approached to solicit student artwork for an exhibition in the new space to be held in the spring.

Art Club is accepting applications from students through Nov. 1. All students awarded exhibition space will also receive a materials grant of $50 to create their work.

—Katherine Bakke

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