Save UTD's Historic Art Barn

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UTD's Art Barn (or Visual Arts Studio- VAS) was built in 1976* and has since been considered a cultural hub for the city of Richardson. The building is home to the visual arts program and features a main exhibition gallery, mezzanine student gallery, black & white photography lab, color photography lab, a painting and drawing studio, a two-dimensional design studio, three-dimensional design and sculpture studio, printmaking studio, a media-ready lecture room, and studio spaces for students. The Art Barn is a unique building and the only space on campus that can accommodate sculpture, printmaking, and gallery space for sensitive issue oriented works. 

After years of an uncertain future and rising student concerns and backlash, Arts and Humanities Dean Kratz announced last night at a gallery show in the Art Barn, that the building is scheduled to close May 13th and planned to be demolished at a later date. The decision to destroy the building was ultimately made by other unidentified members of administration, without the participation of the A&H department as well as the student body as a whole. Even professors, academic administrators, and staff who work and manage the Art Barn were not notified of the official closure until recently, resulting in an undetermined fate of the classes scheduled in the VAS for the upcoming summer and fall. There was no official announcement of the closure from any UTD official and no discourse on plans for the building or the future of the A&H department with the student body. This decision demonstrates a lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to construction projects on campus. There are currently no official plans for accommodating the opportunities this space currently provides, but no future buildings could ever replicate the historical and cultural value the Art Barn possesses.  

I urge everyone to sign this petition to save the art barn and, as paying students, to demand involvement in campus affairs of this magnitude. 

(From The Dallas Morning News in 2014) "Opened as the Fine Arts Building and now officially the Visual Arts Building, the Art Barn was designed by Lawrence Wood of the Dallas firm Fisher & Spillman. It opened in 1976 at what was then the far north end of campus. With wide panels of vertical white siding, porthole windows on its southern flank, and a staggered profile to the north, it has a distinctive graphic profile amplified by the bright Texas sun. The simple geometry of Its sheer planes offers a welcome and relieving contrast to the the largely undistinguished concrete architecture that characterizes so much of the campus. Rice's Art Barn was clearly an influence on the design, which also reflects Wood's interested in photography.

Inside, studio and gallery spaces are arrayed around an open "commons," intended to provide students with plenty of reconfigurable room for work and display, with exposed mechanical equipment and lots of natural light. The layout was the product of a close collaboration between the architect and the arts faculty. George Holman, then the arts department chair, described the design as "a chance to define from the ground up an ideal environment for the making and study of art by the people who would actually be using the facility.” In 1979, it was honored with a merit award from the Dallas AIA."



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