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Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

University to turn old art deco building into state-of-the-art studio and gallery

The art department's new facility is currently full of exposed supports and old brick
The art department's new facility is currently full of exposed supports and old brick

Mercer University’s art department is planning on expanding their offerings next fall, and to make the space, they are turning an old downtown art-deco style building into a top-of-the-line studio and gallery space.

The department is going to be adding a Bachelor of Fine Arts, in addition to the Bachelor of Arts that they currently offer. In order to accommodate all of the expected new students, they needed more workspace.

“We will be recruiting freshmen to come into Mercer as art majors, which we’ve never done,” said Gary Blackburn, the chair of the art department. “A big part of the BFA is going to be recruitment, and one of our recruiting tools is this building.”

Plans for the upstairs space include cubicle-style studios for individual students to use, a break room and an open area for critiques.

“We’ll be able to promise students coming in that their junior year they get their own studio, which no other school in the state does,” Blackburn said.

The new facility will also provide gallery space on the first floor with high-quality LED lighting, movable walls and a commercial kitchen. Plans are to make a space that can be used by both the art department, the poetry circuit and possibly other galleries for exhibitions and receptions downtown.

In the basement of the building, a ceramics studio will meet the needs of the BFA students.

“We’re gonna grow the BFA slowly, but the first 3D area that we have full studio and faculty for will be ceramics,” Blackburn said. “There’s a lot of reasons for that locally because of the history and the clay in the area.”

He declined to name the donors who have helped make this project a reality but said that the facility should be finished by the fall of 2016.


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