UVU visual arts students struggle for space and resources as Noorda Center opens

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Students in the visual arts department feel undervalued and underfunded as the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts prepares to open in March. The Noorda Center, originally proposed as a benefit for all arts students at UVU, is largely going to benefit the performing arts, leaving some visual arts students frustrated.

With the new space for music and the performing arts opening next month, visual arts students struggle with small spaces and fewer supplies for their classes and projects. Many students lack even basic needs like storage spaces for their supplies or pieces, space to work on their projects and ways to get funding.

“We don’t have any rooms with good lighting, the figure drawing rooms are falling apart, we don’t have equipment….it’s really hard to get equipment authorized to be bought for visual artists,” Natalie Logan, a senior illustration major, said.

Logan feels the visual arts have been excluded from the new Noorda Center, as well as from funding. She said she was recruited to UVU partially through promises that the new arts building would include space for the illustration and painting students as well as for performing arts students. When that did not happen, the visual arts students were largely still confined to hallways and aging workrooms in the Gunther Technology building.

Natalie Logan, senior illustration major, navigates storage space in the visual arts building. Logan feels that excluding the visual arts department from the Noorda Center for Performing Arts shortchanged visual arts students such as herself. (Photo by Meghan DeHaas)

Logan is not the only student who feels the school of the arts is prioritizing the performing arts over the visual arts. Alex Pearrow, a junior illustration major, struggles with the lack of facilities as well.

“When I am on campus and can use the art rooms,” Pearrow said. “I don’t have anywhere to store my supplies or projects, so my only other option is to carry them around with me all day through campus.”

Pearrow worries that her pieces will be damaged in the busy hallways and she struggles to carry all of the supplies she needs for her classes. Her square 3-foot clipboard is required for her classes and is bulky and heavy, but many of the art rooms lack desks making the clipboard necessary.

The most repeated complaint from these visual art students is that their labs and classes have no natural light, a critical element of visual art. As most of the visual arts rooms are still in the GT building, many lack any sort of natural light and suffer from lighting problems in general.

Despite these setbacks, these art students are still planning and creating interesting projects. Logan is creating a series of pieces centered around mental and physical health, while Robertson is working to improve her painting skills and has applied to the BFA program in ceramics. Both are excited about the new opportunities the performing arts students will have but feel their own work isn’t receiving the same attention to detail.

“I don’t need a new building, but maybe some natural light would be nice,” Sydney Robertson, a junior ceramics and graphic design dual major, said. “Most of my classrooms are in bunkers, [and] I don’t think it’s an environment for any kind of learning, creative or otherwise.

Assist. Arts & Culture Editor Brandee Waters contributed to this story.

Featured photo by Meghan Dehaas. In the photo, Alex Pearrow, a junior illustration major, navigates the narrow halls of the Visual Communications department which was not relocated to the new Noorda Center for the Performing Arts.