Arts & Culture

Granoff Center celebrates fifth anniversary

Programs foster interdisciplinary collaboration, attract students of many interests

Arts and Culture Editor
Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Granoff Center for the Creative Arts will celebrate its fifth anniversary Friday with a party featuring candy and colorful decorations.

The Granoff Center for the Creative Arts will celebrate its fifth anniversary Friday with a party that fits its age — a toddler’s birthday party, full of candy and youthful decorations. While the building is young, the vision and achievements of the center are concrete.

The Granoff Center’s glass walls facilitate collaboration and transparency both literally and metaphorically. Those involved with the center emphasized the interdisciplinary work and strong sense of community.

“Studio(s) 1 and 2 have a glass wall in between them. Students in each room can look in and see what the others are doing. It’s a really collaborative concept,” said Isabela Muci ’16, co-chair of the Student Creative Arts Council.

“The faculty are pleased with what they’ve been able to do here,” said Chira DelSesto, assistant director of the Granoff Center. “Students have found a home of kindred spirits.”

“There has been successful collaboration between faculty and students from diverse departments,” said Richard Fishman, professor of visual art and former director of the Creative Arts Council. “New ideas are constantly generated.”

More than creating this shared vision of collaboration, the Granoff Center has achieved its original plans and purpose. The center has accomplished its three initial goals — to imagine a new direction for teaching, to conduct research related to teaching and to bring in visiting artists, Fishman said.

In the five years of the Center’s existence, university professors have had the autonomy to teach interdisciplinary courses with a multimedia or artistic component. DelSesto explained that Associate Professor of Biology Casey Dunn taught two courses last semester in the Granoff Center. In one course, he asked his students to create creature casts: short animations for diverse biological concepts. She added that the building itself is more “presentation-based,” equipped with a recording studio, a multimedia lab, an interface media lab, a sound booth, 3D printers and workplaces.

“The building has strong technology and will gain more historical importance with time,” Muci said. “The technology is impressive and draws a science public. I just learned the building has an Oculus Rift.”

The party Friday celebrates the success of the Granoff “grand experiment,” DelSesto said. Student-curated art, contributed by the SCAC, will also be present at the party. “We are curating a small show of Granoff’s permanent work,” said Jake Brodsky ’16, co-chair of the SCAC. The small show will include photographs, canvas, woodwork and prints. “We are also hoping to include some video work,” Muci said.

The fifth anniversary of the Granoff Center also celebrates its potential growth and hopes for the future. “The program is always meant to evolve and change,” Fishman said.

DelSesto, Muci and Brodsky all stressed a need for the larger student body to understand the purpose of the Granoff Center. “What is important now is to reintroduce Granoff to all students, creative artists and creative thinkers. Everybody should know Granoff is a place for them,” DelSesto said.

“The hope is to have more people know about it. All it takes is for people to get into the building,” Brodsky said.

While there is still potential for increased intellectual diversity and growth, the Granoff Center has already embedded multiplicity into its mission. Fishman explained that when the SCAC was formed 12 years ago, it was composed of faculty in the arts departments as well as alums, parents, students and members of the community. The council wanted to grant importance to all art — music, band, theater and creative writing. Since its formation, the interdisciplinary interest has increased. The SCAC has members of “a lot of different majors — history, (economics), art and (modern culture and media),” Brodsky said.

Beyond its academic range, the center is a place of innovation and connection. “We regularly do an event called ‘Triangles,’ which is a series of three lectures by students” after which they try to connect the topics, Muci said. “It’s remarkable.”

All those involved agree the future looks bright for the Granoff Center. “The spirit of collaboration will continue and renew itself,” Fishman said.

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