‘A space to call our own’

Senior art + design major Sue Ryan works on a painting in soon-to-be-lost studio space. Photo by Bee Pilarz

BEE PILARZ | NEWS CO-EDITOR | lpilarz@butler.edu 

University administration plans to renovate two classrooms in the Jordan College Annex to make space for the College of Education’s kinesiology program by fall 2024. 

Previously, classrooms 101 and 103 in the Annex served as studio space for Dance Kaleidoscope, a local dance company and Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) affiliate. When they moved out of the Annex and into an off-campus dance studio in 2019, the classrooms were opened to the Art Department as additional space. 

Grace Carpenter, a fifth-year art + design major, said she remembered how the art + design classes operated when Dance Kaleidoscope still held the space, and how much the department thrived after it was given the opportunity to expand. 

“The program was a lot smaller and a lot less functional,” Carpenter said. “There weren’t things like sculpture … I can vouch that the program’s improved.” 

Adjunct art instructor Jingo de la Rosa has exclusively taught his classes in room 101 since Dance Kaleidoscope left the classroom. 

“It’s not a perfect space whatsoever,” de la Rosa said. “But I think what’s important is that we have a space to call our own.” 

While no specific department has official ownership of these classrooms, many faculty members and students in the Art Department have heavily used these rooms since 2020. In addition to classes including sculpture and illustration, rooms 101 and 103 serve as free-form studio spaces used primarily by seniors working on their theses, which are required to graduate. 

According to Steve Nyktas, associate professor and department chair of the Art Department, university administration first made Dean of JCA Lisa Brooks aware of the changes coming to the Annex, and she then passed the information onto him. In an email to the Collegian, Nyktas said the Art Department expected to be more involved in the renovation process than they were. 

“We’ve been waiting for a ‘needs assessment’ to determine who would get the classrooms permanently,” Nyktas said in the email. “I’m not sure if any such assessment occurred, but recently the administration decided to give the two classrooms to the kinesiology [program].” 

After being made aware of the changes coming to the Annex, Art Department faculty and students raised concerns regarding how this change would impact the Art Department as a whole. 

In a letter addressed to Dean Brooks, Madelin Snider, who graduated with an art + design major in 2023, said she believes decreasing the department’s space will drive potential students away. 

I can guarantee that giving this space, which is vital to the art department [sic], to the kinesiology program will deter future and maybe even current students from enrolling/remaining at Butler to pursue studio/visual art related majors,” Snider said in her letter. 

Nyktas said that there are about 100 students that come to the Annex regularly for class, some of which include art + design, art history and art administration students, all under the Art Department. Additionally, the Annex hosts several visual arts-related Perspectives in the Creative Arts classes, which each have a roster of about 24 non-art major students in them. With the predicted renovations, all Art Department classes held in the Annex would have to be balanced in just two classrooms. 

Trying to accommodate for the lack of space could even impact the number of classes provided by the department as a whole, as they will be consolidating the whole department into two classrooms. 

“Currently, the plan B involves removing some of the tables from our other classrooms and reducing [class] sizes and the total seating capacity because there has to be some place to put [art supplies],” Nyktas said. 

In addition to classroom and studio space, the two rooms currently serve as storage space for the department’s supplies. From easels to band saws, an extensive collection of mediums and tools call classrooms 101 and 103 home, and they will have to be consolidated into the remaining rooms come fall 2024. 

Sue Ryan, a senior art + design major, has turned room 103 into a personal studio of sorts where they are working on a painting for their independent study that is too large for them to take home. They said they feel like their ability to work on bigger projects will be hindered by the reduced space allocated to the Art Department. 

“I only want to do works bigger than this [going forward],” Ryan said. “We don’t even have easel space for that.” 

Nyktas said that the Art Department holds no grudge against those replacing the studio space. He wishes the best for the kinesiology program’s development — but is disappointed it must come at the cost of their own. 


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