January 14, 2005
Ever wondered what’s behind that corner of Ford Music Hall? You know, where the sidewalk pokes out from beneath the shrubs and curves outward towards a small, one level red brick building?
Built in the early 1930’s, the art building originally was a dime store. In later years, it was the press building for producing the Baptist Messenger. “The art department moved into the building and shared it with the state department of human services in 1980,” says Steve Hicks, professor of art. “When they moved out a few years later, it became the art building.” In the beginning there were very few students. Aaron Jones, OBU alum and now the instructor of art history, remembers going into a closet for art history as he was one of only two art history students. Now the art program has grown to the current number of 40 art and art education majors.
In the early days no official gallery space existed, so students displayed their work in the windows of the building and various other places. Then, in 2001, the art building received a remodeling. The renovated building now houses a gallery, a printmaking room/ darkroom, a MAC lab, a ceramics room complete with kilns, a weaving/stained glass room, and a large classroom.
Every semester, senior art students are required to present a senior show. These shows detail the progression of their art from their freshman to senior year. “Senior art students have a solo exhibition as a ‘capstone’ experience in much the same way that the music majors have a senior recital,” Steve says. “It is a practice that most universities require in the fine arts areas.” One advantage that OBU has over larger universities is focused show around the individual artists, not only the department.
In addition to senior work, the gallery presents a homecoming show and seasonally changes the space with new work.
Across the street is the annex. This building has been quite a number of things. It was built in the same era as the art building. In its earlier days, it was a grocery store then a restaurant then a doctor’s office, a temporary post office, and also a frame shop. When it was acquired by OBU, the building stood with in a glaring color of pink. In 2003, the pink was removed to reveal the red brick underneath.
If you miss perusing the talents on display at the art complex during your next visit to campus, art students also display their work in the student center, an exhibit that periodically changes.