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An Inside Look at Clark’s Architecture

Thursday, March 22, 2012

 

Clark University's associate professor of art history, Kristina Wilson, unveiled  the long-awaited exhibit The Life of a Campus: Clark Buildings Then & Now.  It features her work and research, as well as that of students. Wilson’s exhibit follows the changes of campus as well as those of trends in architecture since the school began in 1887.

“I wanted to do this project because the architecture on the Clark campus is really fabulous – many interesting buildings, many aesthetically important buildings – and in general we as a community don’t appreciate it as much as we should,” Wilson said. “So, this was a way of bringing together a wide range of students to engage in different creative and scholarly projects all focused around the campus buildings.”

The exhibit is divided based on the building and time period. 

The Life of a Campus seeks to inform students about the campus they live in. Few students are aware of what Clark used to look like. The dining hall used to be the gymnasium. The clock tower on the main building once crumbled during a fierce summer storm, and two buildings on campus used to be area schools.

The exhibit also shows the trends in architecture across the decades – from Gothic additions to the facades of Jefferson, to the newly built postmodern common spaces in the dorms and the Goddard Library; the way we use space has changed drastically since Clark was built, and Wilson’s exhibit illustrates these distinct eras seamlessly.

Besides educating Clark students, Wilson’s hope is to bring together various forms of expression.

“I wanted to bring the many different V&PA programs together around a single topic – to let us, as a department, collaborate and have fun together,” she said. “Between the studio art, art history, screen studies, and music programs, we really got a great investment in significant student work on this project.”

Studying the Space

Students were welcome to participate in various fashions. One way was through Wilson’s fall 2011 course, Modern Architecture at Clark, a seminar designed to educate students on topics in architecture. Students also used the Clark Archives to peruse old photos, blueprints, and other various documents that were used in the exhibit.

“The most rewarding aspect was to hear from students that they now look at the campus differently when they walk around,” Wilson said. “We go in and out of these buildings every day, and often we forget to even look at them.”

Students were encouraged to form the central narrative of the exhibit as they learned about Clark’s history, planning, and development. The Life of a Campus also features student drawings and photography, allowing for each individual’s personal view of the university.

“Once you start examining how they look, and think about how they function, and study the history of how they have developed, it gives you an expanded, deeper sense of your everyday life,” Wilson said. “To hear that students now think about these things, and the depth of our campus history, as they pursue their lives, is extremely rewarding.”

The Life of a Campus: Clark Buildings Then & Now is divided into two sections on campus. The portion on the second floor of the Traina Center for the Arts, 92 Downing Street, will be on display until April 13th. 
 

 

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