By BRITTANY DeVRIES
In response to the proposed $800,000 to build a new studio for the art department, senior art major Molly Sheldon asked, “Do you dig art?”
On March 13, the General Assembly approved $800,000 for the construction of a welding studio in Melchers Hall, an addition that will relieve Sheldon and other art majors from the current downstairs studio now overflowing with sculptures for the senior art show Friday.
Still awaiting approval from Gov. Kaine, the General Assembly’s 2008-10 tentative budget for the University of Mary Washington also passed $4.25 million in capital projects for Monroe Hall, Lee Hall, and Convocation center equipment, $1 million for academic buildings renovations, and an additional $3.6 million for Monroe Hall renovations.
Senior Beth Wilkins, studio art major and sculpture studio tech aid, said the new studio was a necessary addition.
“Sculpture is the only studio that uses high powered machines, and the area being used now is really cramped and hard to work in,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins had to take her independent study in welding through the theatre department’s set design, because the art department currently lacks proper welding equipment.
“If I had taken my independent study through sculpture, it would have been a better experience,” she said.
Associate Vice President for Business and Finance Rick Pearce explained that the University’s budget requests also addressed other financial concerns.
“Higher faculty salaries, funding for health and safety initiatives, and capital projects were on the agenda,” Pearce said.
Acting President Rick Hurley said that most requests are forwarded to the General Assembly by the State Council for Higher Education “on our behalf, because of our formula funding approach in Virginia.”
According to the e-mail sent out to faculty and staff, University employees will receive a 2 percent salary raise for both years of the biennium.
Carole Garmon, associate professor of sculpture, looks forward to Melchers’ welding studio addition.
“It has always been my vision that this would come,” Garmon said. “I am thrilled, the students are thrilled, that the University is supporting the arts.”
Lack of available space for their artwork is a problem currently facing UMW art students.
“Students can’t work on larger sculptures because you need metal to support them and right now we aren’t able to weld the metal together,” Wilkins said.
Garmon said that the plans for the new welding facility, scheduled to be built for the 2008-09 school year, will also have a brick-fenced, outdoor area for students to create larger pieces.
“I don’t like to address the concept that my students are being limited,” Garmon said, “because it is my philosophy that they can never be limited.”
Hurley said that the Governor’s approval of the General Assembly’s proposed budget should be released in April.