Feb 13, 2023 - News

A new boost for U of A's art school

Ceramics student Beckett Chomyn works at the new art center on Feb. 3. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

The much-anticipated Windgate Studio and Design Center opened to students at the University of Arkansas' School of Art this semester, six years after the promised creation of a regional hub for art education opportunities.

Why it matters: It's a big, tangible step for UA's art department, which became the School of Art in 2017 with the help of $120 million from Walton Charitable Support Foundation.

The school is a stronger competitor nationally and internationally and has more resources to recruit students and offer scholarships, according to spokesperson Kayla Crenshaw.

  • Since the change, the number of undergraduate students has increased by 50% to about 530, and the school has added 26 full-time faculty members for a total of 61.
  • New master's programs in design, art education and art history more than doubled the number of graduate students to about 40.

What's new: Studio art disciplines have a dedicated new building — a central location where students can take classes, socialize and work on their art anytime.

  • "Prior to this building, we were spread across 10 to 12 locations across campus," Crenshaw told Axios.

Details: The 150,000-square-feet, four-story building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just off the main campus, houses all educational offerings for everything from painting to ceramics to printmaking, as well as studios, lounges and faculty offices.

  • Art education and art history will remain anchored at the Fine Arts Center on the main campus, and sculpture classes are in another building next to the center.
  • Windgate Charitable Foundation gave $40 million to build the center.

1 fun thing: Arsaga's Coffee Roasters has a coffee shop — "Artsaga's" — inside the center, where you might be handed a mug made by a ceramics student.

What's next: Phase 2! The university plans to demolish the building next door as early as this summer to create space for a public gallery featuring student art, as well as a 250-seat auditorium and space for an introductory program for freshmen art students.

  • Windgate gave an additional $30 million for this project. The school is in the process of raising another $15 million.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More NW Arkansas stories

No stories could be found

NW Arkansaspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more