Johnson County Community College last week celebrated the opening of a new Fine Arts & Design Studios facility. The dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony April 26 drew a crowd of students, faculty and staff as well as local community leaders.
Michael McCloud, chief academic officer and vice president of academic affairs for Johnson County Community College, emphasized the new facility’s significance on the campus because it gives students access to state-of-the-art technologies in art and also provides a gathering space for like-minded individuals across different mediums, from graphic design, fine arts, sculpture and other areas of study.
“It allows that well-rounded creativity that brings students a new view of the field that they are interested in, but also connects them to people who will work alongside them in auxiliary fields in the real world,” McCloud said. “It’s a very real-world community for them to be involved in that broad art community here, which they will take with them when they go into the working world.”
Construction on the new facility took about a year and a half, nearly wrapping up in time for classes in January. Before the building was complete, art students were scattered across campus in various buildings, McCloud said.
“Our students were really out of sync; they did not connect with one another by classroom space, by physical space, at all very much,” he added.
The new Fine Arts & Design Studios facility also puts students conveniently closer to the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. Ultimately, the facility creates “an arts corridor” for the college: A network of culinary, visual, fine and physical arts (metalwork, glassblowing, etc.) as well as digital arts in the nearby Regnier Testing Center building.
“This is really now a straight corridor where we connect all of our physical and visual arts together,” he said.
In addition to the new building, the college’s art programs are also more interdisciplinary in nature, allowing students to “cross-pollinate” skill sets, McCloud added. Students in related fields can collaborate more easily on projects, while faculty can more easily lecture in one another’s classes.
McCloud touted all of the hard work and effort by faculty and staff to get the programming, curriculum and facility itself ready to open.
“Seeing all of that come together makes me feel that we are taking a huge step forward, and we’re really building within these disciplines the kind of family that they always knew that they had, but now we get to, as administrators, witness that work and give them credit for it,” he said. “The community support that allows us to build Johnson County and to do the things that we’re capable of doing for our students is something that I don’t think can be replicated anywhere else in this country, and we are all really grateful to be here.”