Hocking College opens new Visual Arts Center

Courtesy of the Associated Press

NELSONVILLE — For the first time, Hocking College has all of its art classes in one place at the newly renovated Visual Arts Center. That makes Mark Hackworth’s life a little bit easier.

“We’ll be more unified now,” said Hackworth, coordinator and instructor with the Art, Design and Marketing program. “There’s a sense that we’re all part of the same family. It was hard to do that with satellite sites.”

Previously, classes in 2D and 3D art were offered both on the main campus and on the Square in downtown Nelsonville. After Hocking College moved several programs to the Logan Campus last summer, it left vacancies in what was called Holl Lab.

With the $20,000 in renovations nearly complete, all of the classes, including Hackworth’s office, are now centralized in the Visual Arts Center.

The 10,000 square feet of space features one of the region’s largest Mac computer labs for digital art classes. It also features drawing/designing studios, painting and photography studios, a ceramic studio and a custom hot class studio, which opened last summer. Hocking College is the only two-year college in the state and the only college in the region with a hot glass studio.

“We were once bursting at the seams,” said Brian Alloway, head instructor of the glass program. “The fact that a two-year college is investing like this in the arts is humbling. But we need to lead by example. We need to provide the tools and equipment for students to be successful.”

Alloway said he hopes the renovated space will help boost enrollment. The art program, which launched in 2001 with just four students, currently has 41 enrolled, although students in other programs take classes as electives as well.

More changes are expected soon, too. The college hopes to start a print making studio and a sculpture lab (in both wood and metal working), Alloway added. In addition, the glass blowing classes may be part of Ohio University’s class offerings as soon as next fall.

The space previously used for classrooms on the Square will still be utilized, explained Hackworth. The college plans to expand the Hocking College Art Gallery by hosting special exhibits in the back with a retail space in the front.

Arian Smedley is a staff journalist at The Athens Messenger.