The Workshop, Wesleyan’s Resident Badass Collective Art Space, Now Open

IMG_4344 (comp)

For those of you who have not been in the loop with the things, there is now a student-run arts collective and space on campus called the Workshop. The space resides in the basement of Hewitt 8, formerly home to a ResLife satellite office (and your fave AC Krystal).

The organizers released a collective statement about the intentions of the space during their Saturday night opening:

The Workshop is an arts collective/space built by and for Wesleyan students. This project, as a community and a resource, is continually evolving. We seek to collapse hierarchies of access and authority [along the lines of gender, race, ethnicity, age, class, sexuality, ability, major], to pursue alternatives, to nourish curiosity. We work hard, work with love, work for ourselves and for our peers.

The space is home to a gallery which also serves as the main work space. There’s also a classroom/group work space, a computer bay/design studio, a multipurpose workroom, storage space, and a central hallway.

Rachel Day ’16, one of the major organizers of the Workshop, said at the opening reception that she wants the space to be a “creative workout buddy,” serving as a way to launch creative projects into existence. In keeping with the free-form ethos of the space, there will be bi-monthly community meetings held in the Workshop, the first of which is this Wednesday, February 17th from 7:30-8:30PM, to discuss the governance and operations of the space. The Workshop will also have “Open Work Hours” where anyone can drop by to propose and work on projects. These hours will be from 4-8PM Monday through Friday and from 10AM to 4PM Saturday and Sunday.

Update (2/19, 3:28PM): We talked (used Gmail pretty much) to Rachel Day ’16 about the space, it’s conception, what it took to get good ol’ Wesleyan to help make this happen, and how you can get access to the Workshop:

Wesleying: Were there a lot of administrative hurdles in getting the space?

Rachel Day: It seems like there was a bit of right-time-right-place luck with this project. The administration was overall very supportive of the Workshop and gave us a lot of independence. At the outset, there was a little difficulty in asserting the necessity of a student-run space like this, and then we had to establish the conditions that would be most effective for the kind of needs we hope to fulfill. After a floorplan was set, however, things went pretty smoothly. We had a great project manager, Brandi Hood, who works in Physical Plant, who was able to work with us to figure out the best ways to approach a space like the Workshop.

W: How is the Workshop important in terms of student freedom? Was this founded because you feel such a free-form space was lacking on campus?

RD: There are so many creative projects and ideas floating around on campus – some are able to be realized and seen through, some end up falling through the cracks as people understandably get distracted or overwhelmed with other responsibilities. the Workshop stands as a physical location validating the importance of creative projects that may not have a clearly defined “goal” or “purpose.” There is so much inherent value in pursuing ideas that are driven purely by curiosity and passion, and as it stood, Wesleyan’s campus didn’t provide a place for students to feel free to follow their ideas outside of traditional routes. The existing creative facilities on campus are important and necessary, but also require particular kinds of engagement that may not be suitable for all students. the Workshop can provide an easy access point into art forms of all kinds, allowing students to experiment in a supportive and low-pressure environment. There is an ethos of stewardship and thoughtfulness that we hope will flourish in the Workshop, encouraging a feeling of agency and autonomy amongst students as they work on their projects.

W: Will the place have key-card access? What times is it open?

RD: Yes! For the first week, we have open hours from 4-8 pm. Starting next week, people will be able to start gaining card access. Students will sign an agreement with some of the logistical expectations and rules for use of the space, as well a basic outline of the community standards of respect and care that are required to be part of the Workshop. Then, students will take a quick tour of the space to get a lay of the land and understand essential maintenance of the resources available. After that, the student will be given card access, which gets you in from 7:30 am – midnight daily. For people who aren’t sure if they want to go through the process to get card access, we are in the process of establishing monitored open hours where anyone is welcome, as well as bi-monthly community meetings.

The opening reception drew people from around campus and invited people to help create a “community canvas” and other collective art pieces. Alongside these collective pieces were visual works of all forms from over 40 students. My personal fave installation was a site-specific sculpture that made dope use of a toilet. In addition to viewings of these works, we gathered to see performances of poems and a glorious Regina Spektor tune. See photos from the reception below:

If anyone has questions about the workshop, they should shoot an email to the.workshop.art.space[at]gmail[dot]com, or any of the organizers: Paola Maseda ’17, Rachel Day ’16, Christian Black ’18, Tess Altman ’17, Angus Macdonald ’16, and Isaac Schneider ’16