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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

UB needs to put more funding and recognition into its arts programs — and arts students

Unexpected financial and logistical burdens are drawing students’ attention away from the creation of art

Center for the Arts (CFA) stands as a modern, white, window-filled monolith at the end of a row of brutalist brick-based architectural abuses, giving the impression that the departments which it houses are well off. Everyone knows the beautiful building that gets lit up with vibrant colors at night, and brings in outside hoards of people for its shows. 

Unfortunately the departments housed within these walls are not as well equipped or respected as the school would have prospective students believe. 

The visual arts department in particular is severely neglected, impacting both the professors and the students. Greater funding and recognition for the arts departments is desperately needed — and there’s perhaps no better place to see that than in my 2D Concepts class.

For starters there is a lab fee of $144 associated with hands-on classes. In 2D Concepts, for example, this covers supplies needed for the class: art boards, brushes, paints, painter’s tape, etc. This is meant to ensure that all students have the necessary supplies and cuts the hassle of having to obtain materials on one’s own time. 

However, the school has repeatedly neglected to purchase enough supplies to equip all students taking arts classes. 

The day we intended to begin work on our first project, my professor, H. Boone, opened the cabinet and sighed, “Nevermind, still no paint.” And so it followed for several weeks, frustrations slowly mounting on all ends. We paid a lab fee to have supplies provided. Why then did the due date for our first project elapse before we had the materials to complete it? 

We had to paint a monochrome abstract to explore composition. But the paint never arrived, and we had to complete the project by either cutting and pasting black paper or by buying our own materials. 

Cutting and pasting paper was impractical: the cutting mats we needed were class property, which forced us to work on campus and only when another lab wasn’t using the space. 

The alternative — purchasing our own paint — was a financial commitment that we shouldn’t have had to take on. We purchased paint with our class fee; we shouldn’t have had to go out and pay for it again. 

The second project rolled around. Paint had finally arrived, much to our collective excitement. Unfortunately, we still didn’t have art boards. We were left with paint, but nothing to paint on. 

There was no workaround for this one. After spending an extraordinary amount of time drafting and redrafting concepts just to fill the time, we just gave up. We went through two weeks of incredibly early releases and then simply canceled class one day until supplies came in. 

Supplies are not the only shortcoming of support for UB visual arts. The best lighting for the production of art is natural light, which is why upper story classrooms in the CFA have large skylights. For late evenings or darker days, lights line the ceiling to make up for the lack of natural light. 

There’s just one problem: when you flip the switch, the lights don’t turn on. This means that students can’t work in the studio after dark, or on particularly dreary days. No explanation has been given as to why no power runs to the 2D concepts room lights. 

UB needs to stop turning a blind eye to easily repairable issues in the visual arts department. We pay lab fees on top of tuition. We want to see a visible return on our investment. 

The opinion desk can be reached at opinion@ubspectrum.com   

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