The University of IowaAnnual Report 2008-09


Artists find unity in revamped facility

Isabel Barbuzza, associate professor of sculpture.

There were different theories of where we were going to be, the arts school and so forth. But when they decided we were going to be at the old Menards building, I liked the idea. I said, ‘We’re going to be all together, meaning painting, drawing, sculpture, metals, and all the areas within the School of Art and Art History.’ I think that was a very, very good decision, because in a disaster, what you want afterward, what you want is to be together—be on the same boat, as a way of saying it.

They had only a month and a half to prepare this building, and they did an amazing job putting all of this together. I think when we moved into Menards—the old Menards, it’s Studio Arts—there was a lot of ‘oh, we are so far away from campus’ and ‘it’s like we are so isolated’ and ‘we don’t have any connection to the rest of the University.’ And then at the same time we’re in this amazing space, we’re all together, and we see what students are doing.

We came up with the idea of making an open house so people from the community could come and see what we were doing. The idea was to highlight students’ work. All the students in the school put up work outside on the walls and inside the classrooms. We ordered food for 400 people; we had close to 2,000 people come to the open house. So in 15 minutes the food was gone. We had to order pizzas—I don’t know how many pizzas we ordered!—from everywhere around here because we had families come, little kids, seniors, colleagues. It was wonderful. It was wonderful to see the support and to see how much people care about what happened to us in the flood, the School of Art and Art History, and how interested they are in the arts. So it was a wonderful moment to see all that.