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University funding supports purchase of important equipment for Art Department’s new building

As Sacramento State’s new art building nears completion, the University is ensuring that students and faculty will have the necessary resources to learn and teach.

Approximately $300,000 in funding will allow the Department of Art to purchase furniture, supplies and equipment for the new facility, which is being built to replace the existing 53-year-old Art Sculpture Lab (ASL).

President Luke Wood announced the funding – which will allow the purchase of a gas kiln, durable student lockers, a furnace for casting metals, audio/visual tools, woodshop equipment such as a table saw and tool storage cabinets, furniture, and more – in his recent Spring Address.

“The arts provide an incredible opportunity for students to learn, grow, develop, and be successful,” Wood said. “While many universities across the country are decentering their focus on the arts, Sacramento State is leaning in, because we believe that artistic expression is one of the most powerful forms of education and public service. The new arts building will help us to build and develop the next generation of artists who will transform Sacramento, our region and the world.”

Art department Chair Rachel Clarke said the funding is vital to the department’s mission.

“We're the only university in Northern California that has a bachelor of fine arts and a masters of fine arts program,” Clarke said. “We're really leading in the region as far as preparing students for careers in the arts. Now, as we're doing this, we’re going to be able to provide them with equitable access to the kinds of equipment and experiences that they need to have. We're going to be able to provide them with the best.”

The funding means the new building will have modern equipment to match, College of Arts and Letters Dean Sheree Meyer said.

“We couldn't have done this without the CSU investing in the building,” Meyer said. “But part of what President Wood recognized was that the building is only as good as what we are able to provide in terms of equipment. We have to evolve with the arts, we have to evolve with what students’ needs are, we have to evolve with the curriculum and with the faculty.”

The 20,377-square-foot, $17 million building, between the existing ASL and the ASI Children’s Center, will meet energy efficiency standards and features several large windows, multiple studios and shops, an outdoor sculpture yard, a gallery/lobby and more.

"We're becoming a major leader in arts education. We were already important but all of the changes we've made to our curriculum, and now the new building, it's really game-changing for us." -- Rachel Clarke, Sacramento State Art Department chair

The University opted to build a new facility when it found that the existing ASL would need major renovations and still wouldn’t meet the needs of the department.

Designed by HGA Architects and built by Otto Construction, the new building broke ground in June. The basic structure consisting of steel support beams is installed, and the next phase is the addition of the roof and walls.

Clarke, who recently visited the construction site, was impressed by the progress. “You can see every room now. It was possible to go in and see this is the boundary of the painting studios, this is the common area, these are the sculpture studios,” she said. “You could get a good sense of each of the studio areas and the relative scale of everything. So, it’s pretty exciting to see it all come together.”

The facility is on track to open for use and some classes in early September. It will begin welcoming students for a full schedule of classes beginning in spring 2025.

“That’s why the University’s and the president’s support of these purchases is so important to us,” said Meyer. “Otherwise, the building opening would be delayed even further because we would need to somehow fund the equipment.”

In November, members of the campus community had the opportunity to sign and paint a steel beam that is visible above one of the building’s entrances.

“Otto Construction said when they do buildings, they always do a beam signing event, but we managed to pull off a beam painting event as well,” Clarke said. “It's an expression of a moment in time. It was actually a fantastic event.”

To further support its programs going forward, the Art department is seeking donors and the creation of an endowment, which will include naming opportunities for the building and its rooms.

The department will also commemorate the existing ASL’s five-decade history of serving students with a book that will be published for the new ASL’s ribbon cutting, featuring photos and written memories from campus alumni. Proceeds from the book sales will help raise funds for the department. Anyone interested in submitting photos or memories to be included may email Clarke for more details.

"We're getting to that level now where we have something on par with what you can get at any arts institution," Clarke said. "We're becoming a major leader in arts education. We were already important but all of the changes we've made to our curriculum, and now the new building, it's really game-changing for us.

“We've got a tremendous past, but now we can really look to the 21st century. What do our students need? Now we can provide it."

Construction is progressing at the new art building with steel beams and temporary walls up.
Sacramento State's new art building, which will replace the aging Art Sculpture Lab, is under construction. University funding will ensure that students and faculty have the necessary equipment when it opens. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

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About Daniel Wilson

Daniel Wilson joined the Sac State communications team in 2022 as a writer and editor. He previously worked at the Sacramento Bee as an audience engagement producer and reporter. He graduated from Sac State with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 2018. He plays video games, watches pro wrestling, and loves spending time with his wife and cat.

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