The Studio Story

Anytime of day at Wash U there’s a flurry of student footsteps trekking east and west along the Forsyth sidewalk. On closer inspection, you’ll observe students carrying rolls of paper, portfolios, and oversized backpacks with all sorts of pencils, markers, paintbrushes poking out wherever they can. These are the art students. Where are they headed? That’s easy—studio.

When you attend WashU, you’re likely to hear art students talking about this mystical thing called “studio” pretty frequently. Non art students slowly become curious and want to see what this elusive place entails. I can only imagine what they picture in the mind’s eye; perhaps envisioning a colorful classroom full of art, drawings on the walls, paints splayed about, and artists garbed with french berets furiously flicking oil paints across an immense canvas. What they’ll actually find is quite different yet equally wonderful.

As a freshman, I spent quite a few long days and nights in studio. This was a necessity as most of the work we did was big, creative, and hands on. It was a routine, during the week after we finished class for the day some of the other art students and I would get dinner. On the weekends we would wake up and get breakfast together. Either way, whatever meal it was, when we were finished we would gather our things and go back to studio for a work session.

On arrival to the Sam Fox Bixby hall, we’d enter one of the concrete studios and be greeted by most of the freshman class, hard and happily at work in one studio or another. Over the next few hours of artistic and practical endeavor, we’d play music, snack, talk, and work some more. Frequently, we stepped back from pieces to ask for advice on a drawing or help holding something down while hot gluing a wing onto a supersized bug constructed of cardboard. Some students brought coffee makers, rice cookers, and even sleeping bags depending on what kind of fuel was needed to support the creative process.

For those pursuing studio art, I imagine that the process doesn’t change much. Though, for my Communication Design sophomore year, studio holds a different purpose. Unlike foundation classes, work done for Communication Design classes is much more oriented outwards so studio is oriented outwards as well. We work on our laptops mostly so studio becomes anywhere we want to get work done and collaborate together. Sometimes that’s at Sam Fox, sometimes it’s at a local coffee shop, and sometimes it’s in a hallway in between classes. We create group chats and shared work back and forth. We share tape and make bigger cutting mats by combining all of our little ones. Studio is an opportunity for us all to work together and to elevate the level of our artistry and craft collectively.

Studio time is a highlight of the Sam Fox experience. The physical studio spaces create an atmosphere of teamwork while encouraging us to challenge our practical skills and our creative boundaries.