By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Rick Schuessler calls it “a noisy, but exciting time” in the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Fine Arts Building.
The department of art and design, which he chairs, is getting new studio space for painting, drawing, sculpture and glassblowing through a project that adds about 5,500 square feet to the building’s west wing and introduces new technology to UNK’s art education programs.
“We’ve never had a department where all of our art areas were under one roof,” Schuessler said. “It will be a major benefit for the students and faculty to operate as one art building.”
The updated classrooms and drawing and painting studios, part of an addition that replaced the south courtyard, should be ready for the fall semester. Those studios shifted from the Fine Arts Building’s northwest corner to make room for new labs for glass, woodworking and metalworking, which are currently located in the 64-year-old Otto C. Olsen building that’s slated for demolition.
The northwest addition/renovation is scheduled for completion this fall, however, glassblowing won’t be offered until spring 2020 because the equipment installation must undergo safety inspections.
The Fine Arts Building hasn’t seen changes this significant since the “art wing” was built in 1978, and Schuessler’s department is celebrating by launching a new fundraising and community outreach initiative.
“Kindred” is a series of events Schuessler hopes to host every two years to promote the department, raise money for art projects and equipment and create a connection between past, current and future students and faculty.
“The Kindred events at the Museum of Nebraska Art and UNK’s Walker Art Gallery are a great opportunity for the current art and design faculty and students to connect with UNK’s past art faculty and alumni,” Schuessler said. “Kindred is all about developing our art and design community at UNK, in Kearney and across Nebraska and the Midwest.”
The first Kindred event is an exhibition showcasing posters created by UNK alumnus Chris Cox. The exhibition runs from May 20-31 in the Fine Arts Building’s Walker Art Gallery, which is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. A closing reception is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. May 31 at the art gallery, followed by a social from 7-9 p.m. at the UNK Alumni House, 2222 Ninth Ave.
Cox, who graduated from UNK in 2000, currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“He’s known nationally for his work,” Schuessler said.
During the closing reception, the department is offering tours of the ongoing building renovation.
The second Kindred event is an art show featuring works from current art and design faculty, emeriti faculty, UNK alumni and current students. That show, which includes about 50 pieces of artwork, runs from Saturday (May 18) through June 1 at the Museum of Nebraska Art, 2401 Central Ave., in downtown Kearney. A closing reception and silent auction of artwork are scheduled for 7-9 p.m. June 1 at MONA.
Proceeds from the auction will go toward the purchase of supplies and equipment for the department of art and design.