Greetings from the Armory, the hub and the hive of SOVA activity!
This summer was the “Summer of Moves” for SOVA. Studio Art vacated the Art and Design Learning Center and moved closer to the hub, with drawing, painting, sculpture and photography classrooms all now located in the brand new Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Community (CID LLC) that opened in August 2021. Our Studio Art and Creative Technologies seniors have a new place to call home on the ground floor of the Media Annex, just a few steps away from the Armory. Many of our faculty as well have relocated close by the Armory, which provides for wonderful and engaging hallway and sidewalk conversations. There is no question that bringing our students, faculty and classrooms all within easy physical distance has created a new and powerful “nerve center” for the visual arts on campus.
We welcomed nearly fifty new students to SOVA this August, with a round of Orientation events that included time for cohort-building activities here in the Armory. All students had a chance to meet with faculty and hear about our programs, then we sent them out on a scavenger hunt of classrooms and art-related spaces on campus and in town. Later, they made personalized buttons and keychains, and made time for socializing and snacking. Spending the afternoon getting to know our new students and providing space for them to get to know each other was the perfect way to transition from summer to fall.
At this moment, as I write this message, I can hear the hum of classroom activity in our Foundations room, where our newest crop of SOVA students explore, experience and create with our talented faculty. Passing the classrooms every day for the past three weeks, I have observed how first-week shyness and jitters have slowly given way to confidence: in self, space, and expression, verbally as well as through the artistic media of the classroom. The intangible energy of the classroom experience is a daily reminder of the value of face-to-face instruction in the visual arts.
In this newsletter you’ll read about a summer residency of Mitch Miller, one of our faculty. Mitch is currently working with 500-foot drawings, playing with the concept of narrative. (The art historian in me can’t help but think of the Bayeux Tapestry when I see Mitch’s work!) We also catch up with some of our recent graduates in Studio Art: Jenny Klug (BFA 2019), Tiffany Newman (BFA 2018), Mallory Burrell (BFA 2015), and Emma Crim (BFA 2019). Each of these four remarkable women have found a way to grow her personal creative practice while pursuing careers in everything from the classroom to a cattle farm. Emma Crim sums it up well: “Know that there is no single answer to being a ‘successful artist’ either and that you can make your own opportunities and find a balance that works for you.”
With best wishes,
Interim Director, School of Visual Arts
School of Visual Arts Main Office
The Armory is home to the school’s main office, gallery, and classrooms for Foundations and Drawing. One of Blacksburg’s historic buildings and a former community gymnasium it is situated on Draper Road, a lively intersection of the town and campus. The Armory’s spacious structure, high ceilings, and abundant natural light furnish a striking example of innovative architectural conversion. The Armory Art Gallery is operated as an educational and outreach service of the University. Its exhibition calendar includes work by students, faculty, and artists of regional and national importance. The XYZ gallery, located at 221 N. Main St., is home to the Student Art Association, which operates an independent program of exhibitions by students and local artists. A prominent feature of the Armory is its 1700 sq. foot Mezzanine.