Written by Andrea Six and Yves Jeffcoat

Photo courtesy of SCAD

Instead of sculpture classes taking place in Savannah’s Boundary Hall next quarter, they will be dispersed, with 3-D design classes moving to Anderson Hall and the more advanced sculpture classes moving to Atlanta to be part of the ACA Sculpture Studio.

“Locations for classes are chosen based on the space and technology or other features needed to effectively deliver course content, as well as opportunities where complementary disciplines can work side by side,” said Ally Hughes, SCAD’s director of university communications.

The ACA Sculpture Studio is a 16,700 square foot space located next to the High Museum of Art in Midtown Atlanta. There are 22 individual studios, some of which have 24-hour access, and an exhibition space available. The facilities include a wood and metal shop with several types of saws, sanders and other tools, in addition a spray booth, a computer lab with 3-D prototyping and laser cutter.

“A key feature of the ACA Sculpture Studio is the foundry in which students can work with bronze, aluminum and stainless steel, casting/pouring molten metal — a very important experience that the minor program in Savannah is unable to furnish,” said Hughes.

There will no longer be all of the sculpture classes in Savannah, but there will still be sculpture electives offered. The Gulfstream Center for Design will still be available to accommodate courses that require additional resources. And students that want to stay in Savannah to finish up their minor will still have that opportunity in this next academic year, said Hughes.

“They’ll be offering a few more sculpture classes for the individuals who are far enough along in the minor to finish up,” said Sami Lee Woolhiser, a fourth-year painting major from San Jose, California, who is president of the Sculpture Forum Club. “And they’ll be allowed to sub classes, such as ceramics, furniture or fibers perhaps, to finish their minor.”

Students enrolled in the sculpture program in Savannah were notified of the change by an official letter from Dean Steve Bliss a few weeks ago. Shortly thereafter, the Sculpture Forum Club held “Goodbye Boundary,” an event to showcase their work and gather together before leaving.

“The sculpture department has always performed remarkably well,” said Woolhiser. “And the sculpture-minor students, who have left here or have transferred to the Atlanta campus, have all been really successful in their fields.”

This change upset some students. Kristen Crouch, a photo major and sculpture minor from Wilmington, South Carolina, who was co-president of the Sculpture Forum and finished classes in the winter quarter, voiced their concerns to the administration in a meeting with the president’s office. The administration met with her and there was an information session held for students to ask questions about the situation.

“Making the decision to focus the sculpture program in Atlanta ensures that students gain appreciation for its roots and its contemporary relevance,” said Hughes, “while giving them the resources they need to practice at a professional level.”

Last week, students in the Sculpture Forum sat down with Chief of Staff Len Cripe to get the “straight answer” that Crouch has yet to receive.

At the meeting, the students voiced their concerns about the sculpture minor’s elimination and the closing of Boundary Hall. A commonly proposed concern was losing the option of continuing their minors if interested in moving to SCAD’s campus in Atlanta.

This removal not only affects sculpture minors, but also those that benefit from the technical skills gained from its courses.

“It’s something that really provides skill sets and technical abilities that other majors don’t,” said Woolhiser.

Cripe admitted that there is no answer to “directly address” the reason for getting rid of the minor in Savannah.

“It’s not that we’re trying to take anything away. We’re trying to be additive throughout the process and hopefully that will make your artistic and creative abilities richer and more useful to whatever you do,” said Cripe. “The idea is for our students to be able to differentiate themselves from all the other students who are graduating with animation degrees, illustration degrees — that they broaden their experience by having that rich and fuller experience at other locations.”

At the meeting, Crouch referenced a statement by President Paula Wallace, which says that SCAD has boundless opportunities. “[That statement] should speak to every campus … that someone coming to Savannah is just as important as that student going to Atlanta,” said Crouch.

Cripe is still investigating further into why the loss of Boundary Hall, which the school was leasing from Chatham Steel, necessitates the loss of the sculpture minor.

“I don’t know where the sculpture equipment currently in Boundary Hall will go or where the classes held in the building will take place,” said Cripe.

Despite the lack of current assurance, Cripe confirmed that sculpture classes would still be offered on the basis of student demand even if the minor was not offered.

Woolhiser wished that students had a greater voice in the involvement of this matter, seeing as they are the ones affected.

“We just want more communication,” said Woolhiser. “I think it’s important to communicate with [students] and hear what they have to say before any decisions are made. We just hear rumors and are just all of a sudden cut off.”

Although Crouch has graduated, she would also like to see more communication between executives and faculty and students.

“That gap has to be bridged because it comes up all the time that we don’t know what’s going on and these decisions are being made by people we don’t see,” said Crouch. “It has potential to really devalue our degree, I think, as fine artists, that these things just happen and we have no say.”

Cripe proposed a follow-up discussion allowing students to propose their solutions, whether it includes having more independent studies to make up for the no longer offered sculpture classes or a new location for the kilns. Cripe encourages students who remain uneasy to contact him.

“We’re moving forward and we’ve heard your concerns,” said Cripe. “I can’t promise you anything, but certainly, I’ll be an active voice.”

The opportunity for students to sign the Save Sav Sculpture petition continues.