Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 22, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Commentary: Remote location hides artists from campus

I’m always struck by the walk to the Ceracche Center. No matter my origin, it feels as if the art department at Ithaca College is miles away. In comparison to the other academic buildings, the Ceracche Center is the farthest from the center of campus, sandwiched between Butterfield Stadium and Freeman Baseball Field. The journey feels especially long when I walk from my Garden Apartment.

That distance may seem like a trivial matter, but it affects the academic practice of the students within the building. This physical divide is symbolic of a very real separation between the art students and the rest of campus life and activities. It hinders the formation of connections to other students outside Ceracche.

The department, which is housed in the bottom floor of the Ceracche building, is not one many students wander by without reason. For the most part, only the students taking classes in Ceracche and the athletes whose gyms are located there ever step inside. This physical separation leads to a complete lack of visibility for the art department at a college that claims to extol interdisciplinary connections.

Though the artwork in Ceracche is not often seen, there is an amazing spectrum of work ranging from sculptures to paintings to digital media. This reflects integration of art on campus, which is typically reserved to respective schools, such as concerts in the James J. Whalen Center for Music and shows in the Dillingham Center.

But visibility is only one inadequacy of Ceracche. Small classroom sizes limit non-art students’ ability to enroll in specific courses. It’s common to hear stories of people trying to get into an introductory course for two to three years. Once in a class, there may not be enough physical space for a comfortable working environment. Finished projects are often held in faculty offices because of a lack of storage space, and it can be difficult trying to maneuver around other students while working on your own project. This translates into spending much of the class time waiting in line to use materials and machinery instead of working.

On top of this, dropped dumbbells from the athletic training rooms above, wind passing through the aging structure and sporadic leaks in the ceiling hinder an inspiring ambiance.

Yet Ceracche is a second home to me. Even as an art minor, I’ve become close with the amazing art professors. There is nothing like being in the building, working alongside your classmates, looking over each other’s work, giving ideas and being inspired; it’s a den of creativity. Our building is small, our spaces ramshackle, but it’s very much ours. I constantly encourage friends and non-art classmates to visit. Not many are willing to make the journey, but those who do are always surprised to find the artistry within and leave asking why more people don’t know about what we create.

It’s a love-hate relationship to study art in Ceracche. Despite this, the art department is a true diamond in the rough. My greatest wish is that, one day, the college will provide us with the facilities and resources necessary to foster an environment of creativity and success. Then, the campus will be able to truly see, and respect, the art department for the treasure it is.