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Department of Art

BYU’s Art Labs Provide Space, Materials and Support for Art Students

The Department of Art Provides Ample Resources to Help Their Students Succeed

The Department of Art provides spaces where art students’ imaginations can flourish and equips them with the resources they need for success. Located in buildings across campus, the Department of Art has a 2D stockroom, two 3D stockrooms, a woodshop, a tech checkout facility and an Art Resource Center available to art majors and students currently enrolled in Department of Art classes. They have multiple labs for each discipline that provide the space and tools necessary to complete projects for classes. Any materials an art student may need—from wood to paper to metal to clay—can be purchased from the various stockrooms, conveniently located in the same buildings where art classes are held. Each stockroom and lab has a manager who specializes in each discipline and can assist students.

These top-notch resources allow art students to explore creativity, hone their skills and prepare for careers as professional artists in a wide variety of disciplines.

3D Art Resources: Ceramics, Sculpture, Woodworking

Ceramics Kiln painted with the words "BYU Raku"
One of the Many Ceramics Kilns
Photo by Alex Marshall Hatch

The ceramics and sculpture labs are located in B66. Although classes are held in these labs, students who are registered in classes or who are ceramics or sculpture majors can use the facilities on their own time for projects.

The Ceramics Lab accommodates both thrown ceramics (using a pottery wheel) and handbuilt ceramics. Materials are kept in stock for the students to buy but specialty materials are also available for order if a ceramics major or graduate student needs something specific. The lab is complete with large work tables, wheels and kilns and has additional rooms for BFA students in ceramics and sculpture. It houses different types of kilns: those powered by gas, electricity and wood fire. The lab is open to students within the department who are registered in classes that require the use of ceramics and to all ceramics majors.

The Ceramics Lab is managed by James Robertson who has worked in the lab for the past five years. He said, “We’ve tried to create a program that has everything that any other well developed university program would have. What is special about this lab is the availability of materials. The ceramic majors have the ability to work with some very specialized materials and we facilitate that for them.”

With such a wide variety of tools and the possibility of specialized materials, ceramics students can create any number of projects, from the very rudimentary to the most complex and technically advanced.

Located down the hall from the Ceramics Lab is the Sculpture Lab, managed by Amber McLain. This lab is complete with stations where students can work with metal, stone, wood and bronze. There is a classroom in the lab where students can sculpt with from a live model; a photo room where students have access to cameras, lighting and backdrop to photograph their work; and a gallery room where students can display their work for friends and family to view. The stockroom sells wood, metal, stone and other materials. The Sculpture Lab has rooms specifically for MFA students. These MFA studios spaces are opened during Open Studio walk-throughs to display the student’s work in their working environment.

The Open Studio walk-throughs and the gallery room prepares students for careers after graduation where they have to prepare and present in galleries and museums. Having these opportunities right in B66, rather than across campus in the West Campus buildings, promotes a feeling of inclusivity for the artists. The proximity of their artwork to their workstations allows viewers a deeper understanding of the work and passion that went into each piece.

The Sculpture Lab
The Sculpture Lab in B66
Photo by Alex Marshall Hatch

About B66 McLain said, “About two years ago the College allowed us to put some money into the graduate student rooms to make the space little more student friendly. Before that, students didn’t want their workspaces in B66 but now these spaces are highly desired.”

McLain loves working in the labs in B66 and considers it a special place on campus for students. “I don’t know if there’s another space on campus like this. You walk in and just smile because there’s so much creativity going on. I get to watch the students working on a daily basis and they’re constantly inspiring me and giving me ideas.”

The Woodshop is located in the West Campus Classroom Building (WCCL). It houses woodworking tools and raw materials that art students can use for their projects. Specifically, first year students use the Woodshop to create two projects including a stretcher bar to hold canvas for painting. The Woodshop is managed by Jerry Welker who is assisted by two student lab techs.

Welker said, “I love my job. It’s been just a real pleasant surprise for me. I got out of woodworking the last couple of years and it’s good to be back into it.”

2D Art Resources: Printmaking and Bookbinding 

The 2D art labs and stockroom are located in the WCCL along with the Woodshop. The building consists of five printmaking labs including a clean room for cutting paper, a lithography lab, an intaglio lab, a silkscreen area and a bookbinding room. There is also a designated lab for graduate and faculty use that houses machines and tools from all of the other five labs in one room. The WCCL also has an onsite stockroom where students can buy printmaking materials for competitive prices.

The stockroom and printmaking labs are managed by Michael Sharp. He said, “[Our stockroom] is an amazing resource. A lot of institutions will have a bookstore that sells paper but not a stockroom within the department where students can get the supplies they need for all of their classes.”

Stone lithography station.
Stone Lithography Station
Photo by Alex Marshall Hatch

The printmaking labs are outfitted with all of the tools students need for a wide variety of printmaking techniques. Art majors and students in the department can use the letter presses, vacuum presses, photopolymer machine, aquatint box, ferric chloride etching tank, etching presses, hotplates, stone lithography tools and materials, book presses, screen printing and silkscreen tools, a wide variety of material and paper cutters, and materials/tools for photo plate, aluminum plate and stone lithography. Some of these resources, such as the aquatint box and stone lithography station, are not commonly found in other universities or art institutions today even though the practices are still in vogue in the professional art world.

Students learn to use all of these tools in their introductory classes. The labs are open to those outside of the department through the Printmaking for Non-Majors course; however, all students wishing to use the spaces, whether they are in the department of not, must get approval from their advisors and must know how to use the machines.

The Department of Art’s labs are an invaluable resource to their students. They house all the equipment and materials students need to prepare for professional careers and create the art of their dreams.

More than just offering a place to work and buy materials, these labs are managed by professionals who are passionate about their art and enthusiastic about working with the students. All four lab managers expressed their love for their jobs and how much they enjoy working with the students.

When asked what he wished students knew about the labs, Sharp said, “That they are here! They are meant for the students to use to come up with ideas and create. If students have questions, come to the stockroom; if students need a shoulder to cry on, come to the stockroom. We’re here for them.”

Printmaking studio
One of the Printmaking Studios, Equipped with Tools
Photo by Alex Marshall Hatch