Black Hills State University studio artist Shalayne Mowry, math and art major from Spearfish, talks with Emily Kulish, elementary education major from Rapid City, during the Art Studio Open House.
The once vacant southwest corridor in the lower level of Wenona Cook Hall now has a much different look. The walls are filled with colorful paintings, drawings and other abstract creations. Each of the rooms is filled with artwork from Black Hills State University students, some finished and some still in progress.

The area, the former home of Student Support Services, has been transformed into independent work spaces for the University’s art students. Earlier this month, BHSU students, staff, faculty and community members had a chance to tour the space during an open house.

This is the first semester the students had an opportunity to apply for their own art studio space, said Desy Schoenewies, assistant professor of art. Having their own space is a great opportunity for students, Schoenewies said. “They like (the studios) because it’s a quiet space where they can stay focused and spread out.”

 Eleven Black Hills State University art and art education majors now have access to their own individual spaces for art production. A recent open house gave the public an opportunity to see the studio spaces and witness the students at work.
Schoenewies monitors the studios several times a week to make sure the students are making the most of the space and consistently making progress on current and new art pieces.

Ethan Engel, art and graphic design major from Winner, spends 15-20 hours a week in his studio space which is filled with a variety of pieces from sculpture to charcoal drawings. During the open house, Engel spent time discussing the numerous pieces he has in the works. “When it comes to my disability, I sometimes get into a roadblock so I move onto a new piece until I can come back to it,” said Engel, who is autistic.

Several of Engel’s pieces have references to autism. “One of my goals in life is to communicate autism through artwork,” he said noting that having his own art space has given him a quiet environment to create.

Schoenewies said many students live in small apartments either on or off campus that lack adequate room to work. The studios give these students their own space to come and go when they can.

The only working area Kylie Steever, education major from Hill City, previously had was a space she shares with two other people.  “It’s nice to have a quiet space.”

The art studios double as an art gallery for students to showcase their finished work. During the open house, Steed sold one of her pieces, a three-panel colored painting of a tree.

Schoenewies said she has been amazed at the amount of time students are spending in the studios and how productive they have been. “We are really happy to have this space. It has exceeded my expectations.”