Truman Review Winter 2002 - Index

Winter 2002
Vol. 7. No.2

Features
Hopes and Dreams Come to Life for the Fine Arts Division

Homecoming 2002

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Truman Review Winter 2002 - Feature Article

A partial view of the new wing recently added to the east side of the Ophelia Parrish Building

Hopes and Dreams Come to Life for the Fine Arts Division

Thanks to generous support from the state of Missouri, the University's music, theatre, and art departments each have a space to call their own in the newly renovated and expanded Ophelia Parrish Building. As an added bonus, the entire Fine Arts Division has been unified under one roof for the first time in 30 years.

The Fine Arts Division has endured some obstacles throughout its history on campus. As the Division expanded over the years, it had to contend with a shortage of space that forced the various departments to scatter across campus. The space issue was compounded by the special needs required for music, art and theatre classes. The music department needed sound isolation. The theatre department needed facilities for costume and set design. And the nature of the art department created a host of special needs required for classes that cover everything from sculpture to photography.

Most of these issues have been remedied with the completion of this major building project made possible by the generous financial support from the state of Missouri. Truman's entire Fine Arts Division recently moved into its new home in the Ophelia Parrish complex where each department has more space, new equipment and facilities specifically designed for its own unique needs.


A New Home
Today, when facing Ophelia Parrish from Normal Street, the visible signs of this achievement are evident. As one walks along the sidewalk peering into the theatre workshops, students can be seen actively bringing set designs to life. From up above, professors can be seen as they gaze out of their office windows. The curved white tile frames, the only windows into the new performance hall, light up at night as an indicator of the music that is being played on the inside. Students can be seen bustling about through the glass lobby as they move from one class to the next. Each is an indicator to the unity, life and pride that is encompassed within this new facility and, ultimately, within the Fine Arts Division.

The advancements of this new facility are endless. Each department within the Division has made leaps and bounds forward in terms of space, technology and the types of features that are now accessible to them. For instance, music now has the 500-seat performance hall at their disposal for everything from recitals to small ensemble concerts. Their practice rooms have doubled and are continuing to be improved for optimal acoustic quality. There are even separate choral and instrumental rehearsal rooms that accommodate everyone from Cantoria to the University Orchestra. And the amount of technology is limitless, as demonstrated with the new keyboard skills classroom.
Art has had a new world opened to them in terms of space and technology. Annie Martineau, a junior art major, points out the significance of the working environment on an artist's work. "The formula for a dynamic artistic environment = space + utility + comfort + modernity," says Martineau. "Give the artist enough room to breathe, to create with efficiency, and to work with productive ease, the ultimate result is prolific innovation." The art gallery has been completely refurbished to create an environment more conducive to displaying artwork. Hallways and other display areas are wider and designed specifically for the purpose of showcasing students' work. The workshop space and technology have grown tremendously, and now includes the sections previously housed at the south end of campus in Barnett Hall unifying the art department once more. Susan Shoaff-Ballanger, professor of art, reinforces the difference this change has made. "It is a great space in which to teach and learn - a total change from the complete lack of adequate facilities on the third floor of Baldwin."

Theatre, like music and art, ushers in their own private facilities designed specifically to meet their needs with the inclusion of the 300-seat Courtyard Theatre and the Black Box Theatre on the second floor. The facilities previously available for theatrical productions often required a compromise. "The auditorium in Baldwin is way too large for most of our productions, but the alternative was the Little Theatre, which frankly, was not designed to be a theatre at all," says Andrea Reiher, a senior studying theatre. The theatre department now has adequate storage rooms and workshops for everything from costumes to sets. Not to mention, they have their own computer lab, complete with programs geared toward their field of interest.

A Unifying Experience
The Fine Arts Division's new home provides more space, new equipment and facilities specifically designed to fit the unique needs of its three departmentsThe Fine Arts Division's new home provides more space, new equipment and facilities specifically designed to fit the unique needs of its three departmentsThe Fine Arts Division has gained beyond the concrete items found in its new home. Unity between all three departments - music, theatre and art - has been at the forefront of the advantages gained through the incorporation of this new facility. Head of the Fine Arts Division, Bob Jones, has noticed that there is a sense of community among the division that was not present prior to moving into the new facility. "We now have all three disciplines under the same roof," says Jones. "It's the first time we've had that in over 30 years." The artificial barriers are gone that separated the departments from one another. "There is a closer proximity then what we had before," says Richard Weerts, professor of music, reinforcing Jones' views. "It is a more functional place where art, theatre, and music students and faculties have more opportunities to interact."

Not only has the Division been united due to being housed under the same roof, but the Ophelia Parrish construction project has marked the University's commitment to having a well-developed fine arts program within its curriculum. The enrollment and interest among incoming and current students is already apparent within the music department. Initially, the department was programmed to support 129 majors, but by this fall, that number had already risen to 200. "It is a good problem to have," says Jones. "At least the students are here."

The Fine Arts Division's new home provides more space, new equipment and facilities specifically designed to fit the unique needs of its three departmentsWhile improvements in enrollment and interest in the fine arts major is appealing and definitely desired, it is not the sole objective set out by the division and faculty in creating this new fine arts facility. As is the case across the University, faculty and students are interested in the quality of learning and knowledge that is acquired. Thomas Hueber, professor of music, sums up this sentiment well when he says, "Just to have people come and experience what will be here would be the most gratifying. That is part of why we do what we do, to reach out and draw people in to experience the music."Jacqueline Paulson is a senior English major from Oldenburg, Ind.

 

The Ophelia Parrish Building: Past to Present

The refurbished Art Gallery provides an environment more conducive to displaying artworkSept. 12, 1923 marked the official opening day of the Ophelia Parrish Building, built under President John R. Kirk's administration as a demonstration school where the University's students did practice teaching. The original building was comprised of 18 classrooms, an administrative suite, offices for teachers and an auditorium on the first level. The second floor housed 17 rooms including more teacher offices and a library. It was under construction at the same time as Kirk Auditorium and was built to accommodate 500 students from kindergarten through the ninth grade. At the time of its creation, the estimated cost was $87,000.

Ophelia A. Parrish, director of the practice school from 1899 until 1903 was the inspiration for the name of the building. She also served the Normal School, now Truman State University, from 1903 until her death in 1915 as head librarian and professor of library economy.
While the original intention was for the building to remain as a practice school, it was later turned into one of the first junior high schools in northeast Missouri and would continue in that capacity for 59 years. To accommodate the growing needs of the school, University President Walter Ryle commissioned an addition to the original building that was completed Jan. 2, 1939 at the cost of $132,000. Constructed at the same time as Baldwin Hall, it housed 16 classrooms, a gymnasium and a library room.

The early '80s marked the end of the Ophelia Parrish junior high when a new junior high building was built next to the existing high school to better serve the needs of the students. The Ophelia Parrish Building then provided office and classroom space and storage for the University until 1997, when the Missouri legislature appropriated funding for the first half of a two-step renovation process creating the new fine arts facility.

How Does the New Fina Arts Facility Measure Up?

The newly renovated and expanded Ophelia Parrish Building now houses the entire Division of Fine Arts. Here is a quick overview of the new facilities.
The New Ophelia Parrish Addition:

• New design studio featuring 20 computer stations outfitted with Macs, scanners, graphic tablets and CD burners
• Digital imaging lab (17 computer stations)
• Music computing lab (14 computer stations)
• MIDI studio lab (4 computer stations) - music department
• 20-station PC lab for theatre
• Electronic keyboard skills classroom
• Recording facilities for music performance hall
• 300-seat Courtyard Theatre
• 500-seat performance hall
• Acting studio
• Choral and instrumental rehearsal areas
• Scene and costume workshops
• Faculty offices
• Practice rooms

Remodeled Section of the Pre-Existing Ophelia Parrish Building:

• Art Gallery
• Alternate Gallery
• Classrooms
• Music Library
• Uniform and instrument storage
• Lounge area
• Division of Fine Arts Office
• Lobby