Sam Houston State University offers good news for art majors. In the semester of Fall 2008, SHSU’s art department implemented a new program called W.A.S.H. (Workshop in Art Studio and History). The purpose of the 15 hour class is to combine many of core art classes into one segment to expose students to both the arts and visual arts programs at SHSU. Their website states that it is: “The only program of its kind in Texas, the students explore various aspects of contemporary art in both theory and practice.”
These students are taught the basics of art while they may also explore their creativity in projects assigned by the professors. The website expresses the desires of faculty: “The students going through the program will attain a sense comradery with one another, establishing bonds that will follow them throughout their academic careers at Sam Houston State University.”
These students work on a rigorous schedule, faced with many challenging assignments on a weekly basis.
The fruit of the new program has been shown over the past week, as the WASH students finished a class project which required much hard work and dedication. According to Edward Neely, a sophomore majoring in photography who participates in the WASH program, “The original assignment was to make a sculpture/ installation using 100 of one object. The purpose, I believe, was to get us to grapple with the problem solving issues that take place in the making of sculpture, as well as to familiarize the students with their materials. Basically, to get the students to experience the sculpture/ installation process. I think that it was very successful at what it was trying to achieve.”
For the assignment, Neely designed a unique sculpture using pipes, containers, and goldfish titled “An Amalgamation of Disconnect” in which he used 100 goldfish. The many goldfish in containers hung from the piping which was constructed in a box-like structure. As if the structure and living creatures are not enough to capture the attention of those viewing, the concept behind is even more thought provoking. The goldfish are together, but separated by an invisible barrier that coincides with the manner people treat each other today’s society.
Upon viewing the melted records sculpture, newspaper quilt, and Ethan Byerly’s “The World is for the Birds,” and other results of the class assignment, it is clear that these students are learning from the program as they sculpt their thoughts into form. Neely may have said it best: “I think the WASH program is, for the most part, a success because it familiarizes the students with all of the branches of the visual arts, and it builds community amongst the students.”