NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The arts at Vanderbilt entered a new era with the dedication of the $13 million E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center in the center of campus.
“It’s not just a place to put an easel, but a lot more. It’s a place I can call my own – my private sanctuary to work out my ideas,” said Vanderbilt senior Kayla Jones at the Nov. 2 dedication ceremony.
Jones joined Vanderbilt officials and E. Bronson Ingram’s daughter and a major contributor to the project, Robin Ingram Patton, on stage to address the crowd of about 300 who attended the ceremony to officially open the 48,000-square-foot facility.
Chancellor Gordon Gee; Nicholas Zeppos, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Richard McCarty, dean of the College of Arts and Science; and Marilyn Murphy, artist and associate chair of studio arts, gave remarks during the program that was followed by guided tours of the building.
The center has studios for painting, drawing, design, printmaking, multimedia, computer design, photography, sculpture and ceramics. Other spaces include a gallery, classroom, office and administrative space for studio arts faculty, and studios for faculty research, and for senior students to work on their projects.
“With one grand gesture Robin Patton has transformed the nature of studio arts at Vanderbilt,” Gee said.
“The conventional wisdom is that art expands to fit the space you give it and this great facility can assist in the manifestation of this.”
Donors Michael and Suzanne Ainslie and Robert Lindsay also helped make the new center possible.
Studio arts students were on hand to talk about their work and guests got to see art being created as students worked pottery wheels in the ceramics studio. Works by Vanderbilt arts faculty and students were on display in the gallery.
Jones and McCarty presented a student’s work as a gift to Patton, who remembered her father as “not a great lover of the arts, but a great lover of Vanderbilt.”
“It would probably have been more appropriate to name one of the math or science buildings after my dad, but the names on those buildings are already taken,” Patton joked.
“My dad always thought that for Nashville to be a major player, Vanderbilt must be a top university and the missing piece of the university’s great liberal arts education was the arts,” Patton said.
“So it is very appropriate that this missing piece that will now help catapult Vanderbilt to a top university is named after my dad.”
According to Murphy, plans to expand the studio art program began taking shape in the1980s under then art department chair Hamilton Hazelhurst.
“That dream is now a reality and it has allowed us to develop a major,” she said. “We have had some great former students and I can’t wait to see how this inspiring new building will impact our current and future students.”
Previously, the studio arts program was housed in Cohen Building, a 1928 structure originally built as a museum, on the university’s Peabody College campus.
Located in the geographic center of campus, the new studio arts center joins recent construction projects the Student Life Center and Ben Schulman Center for Jewish Life in anchoring a new gateway into the Vanderbilt campus. The center was designed by Nashville firm Allard Architects LLC and international firm The Hillier Group based in Princeton, N.J.
“This new building will pay handsome dividends for years to come,” McCarty said. “It really is second to none and a great achievement for the visual arts.”
Media contact: Princine Lewis, (615) 322-2706