Funding for Art Center renovation and expansion on November ballot

On Nov. 2, Rhode Islanders will have the opportunity to vote on a $78 million higher education bond referendum (Question 2) that includes $17 million to finance the renovation and expansion of Rhode Island College’s 52-year-old Art Center.

“RIC’s art program is already highly regarded academically,” said RIC President Nancy Carriuolo. “What we now must do is provide a facility that reflects the quality of the program.”

Rendering of the Art Center after proposed renovations and expansion.

The upgraded facility will include a wrap-around addition and provide adequate faculty offices, classrooms, art studios, workshop areas, slide library, photography lab, computer lab and multipurpose presentation areas. In addition, the renovated facility would centralize art program activities currently scattered around campus.

A new art center will "increase the seriousness in which the students regard their work," said William Martin, chair of RIC's Art Department. "It will help make them see themselves as professionals."

Martin added that a new art facility will be a major draw to recruit students. "It will make us even more attractive to a wider audience."

The current building housing the art center was constructed in 1958 and intended as the original student center, dining center, bookstore and college library. The building was converted into the art center in 1971 to include classrooms, studios and faculty offices.

Currently, a wide variety of accredited programs and 15 full-time faculty members provide RIC students with the tools for a career in the art field.

Students receive comprehensive art instruction in foundations, ceramics, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, metalsmithing and jewelry design, sculpture, art history, art education and media studies.

Programs offered include a BA and BFA in studio art, a BA in art history, a BS, MA and MAT in art education, and an MA in media studies. Also offered are honors in art and six general-education courses.

Each of the full-time faculty has impressive exhibition and publishing records. Many of the faculty have been awarded state and federal art grants and have had their work shown in notable museum collections.

Student demand is high for RIC’s art programs, which serve approximately 240 undergraduate majors, 30 minors and 25 graduate majors. Approximately 2,000 students per year take 130 classes in the facility.

Graduates contribute to the state’s economic development. RIC art graduates attend many of the finest educational institutions in the country. Students have entered successful careers for companies such as Boeing Corporation, Howard Ben Tre Studio and National Geographic. Many have gone on to become art professors, art teachers, graphic designers, professional studio artists and multi-media professionals.

The college’s STEM (science, teaching, engineering, and mathematics) Center is a hub for training educators and others who will become the next generation of professionals in these fields.

“Add an A (to STEM) for the arts, and STEAM is created,” said Carriuolo. “The scientific and technological inventions that make America great all include creativity, and creativity is nurtured by the study of the arts."

For more information, contact Jane Fusco, director of News and Public Relations, at (401) 456-8468/