By Emily Brown
As I checked into the front desk at the Lawrence Arts Center, a performer with sparkly-grey face makeup and feathers in his hair popped into the office. Upstairs, racks of shiny outfits stood in the hallway as two women used a garment steamer to dewrinkle fabric. The women were putting final touches on glittery costumes — the Lawrence Arts Center’s School of Dance was preparing for an important performance the upcoming weekend. A group of returning potters listened to a faculty member in the ceramics studio, and original art hung on the walls of the visual arts studios.
The community arts center has numerous opportunities for students to learn, perform, and create. Style on the Hill wanted to check out the best options for college students.
The Lawrence Arts Center, one of the top three art centers in the nation, focuses on three things: exhibitions, performance, and education. The building is located downtown, a perfect location for students looking for a hobby outside of their major or for supplemental art education.
While performances and exhibitions occur regularly, the education part of the arts center permeates the entire building, Margaret Morris, the chief program officer, says.
There are dozens upon dozens of classes for students to try out, and the topics range from printmaking to Irish dance. There are classes for beginners and for more advanced learners.
Students can take classes in ceramics, digital media and photography, textile arts, drawing and painting, jewelry and metals, paper and book arts and writing. The Lawrence Arts Center School of Dance offers classes in tap, jazz, hip hop, and other dance mediums.
Olivia Hernandez, a KU student majoring in Fine Arts, began working at the Lawrence Arts Center in 2010 as an art model. After modeling for an art class, she saw a sign advertising for volunteers. She started volunteering as a way to give back to the place she loved, and in 2014, she was hired as the dance program coordinator.
Throughout the years, she has taken numerous classes at the Lawrence Arts Center, including Adult Ballet, Adult Modern dance and Imaginative Drawing. She says the arts center is a great place to receive a diverse range of teaching and instruction.
“If you are lucky enough to have a resource like the arts center, that offers great faculty and great financial aid, to a poor college student, there is nothing better,” she says.
Susan Tate, CEO of the Lawrence Arts Center, says the classes are perfect for students.
“It is not very expensive to take a class at the art center,” she says. “A student who is a business student might not have time in their schedule to take ceramics at KU, but might be able to come here and take ceramics. It is not the same commitment as taking a University class, nor is it the same expense.”
The cost can depend on the length of time the class meets and the medium. Classes can be as cheap as $80 (Adobe Illustrator) or as high as $273 (Ballet VI & VII).
The faculty teaching the classes have Masters Degrees in their area of teaching, and because the Lawrence Arts Center has a partnership with KU, many of KU’s faculty also teach at the arts center.
“What I really like is there is a real quality to the faculty,” Hernandez says. “Everybody has a strong background in what they are teaching. It is really, really enriching.”
The Lawrence Arts Center has numerous other opportunities for students to learn or engage in art. To learn more about what classes are held, or some of the upcoming performances, check out their website at http://lawrenceartscenter.org/.