JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas State University Chancellor Kelly Damphousse cut the ribbon on his university’s newest building, the Windgate Center for Three-Dimensional Arts, to celebrate the upgrade of A-State’s facilities for the Department of Art + Design.
“We are very thankful for the profound support Windgate has shown to the arts at A-State in the past, and for our northeast Arkansas region,” Damphousse said. “Rare are the days when we can open a $7.9 million facility with its own $1 million support and maintenance endowment. Thank you very much to Pat Forgy, Robyn Horn and all the people at Windgate for their on-going commitment to both the arts and to Arkansas State.”
With today’s announcement, Windgate’s giving to Arkansas State reaches $15 million cumulatively.
Opened for classes just prior to the start of the fall 2021 semester, the Windgate Center for Three-Dimensional Arts building is 16,818 square feet of indoor facility plus an additional 5,000 square feet of outdoor working spaces that was constructed for $7.9 million.
The Windgate Center replaces a New Deal era building that had been repurposed several times, most recently as the “Art Annex” to house many of the Art + Design programs that have now moved. At more than three times the space for three-dimensional art disciplines compared to the old annex, the Windgate Center has state of the art kilns and workspaces for ceramics, a dedicated a woodworking lab, a foundry for castings, student studio and work spaces, and indoor and outdoor spaces for students, faculty and visiting faculty to display their art.
“We often use the word transformative to describe change to the point it nears cliché, but let me be clear: replacing an 85-year-old, retrofitted gymnasium with this beautiful facility transforms the lives of the students at Arkansas State University,” Dr. Carl Cates, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Communication said. “Replacing a 5,600 square foot space inside a New Deal era building with more than three times that space transforms the lives of students.“
The department chair for Art + Design, Dr. Temma Balducci, echoed Cates’ sentiments.
“The Windgate Center for Three-Dimensional Arts opens so many possibilities for our students in terms of their creativity,” Balducci said. “They have access to equipment and processes that simply were not available or even feasible in the Annex.”
“I cannot wait to take classes in the Windgate Center,” Art + Design student Grace Westerman said. “It’s a beautiful building that makes me proud to be a studio major and at A-State. I know from upper-classmen how much difference the new space makes with separate areas devoted to woodworking and metalworking. And everyone is excited about being able to cast.”
In his remarks at the ribbon cutting, Damphousse also recognized the unique challenges of completing the facility.
“It’s a little bit of a collective miracle that we have completed and opened the 3D arts building,” Damphousse said. “Remember that the facility you see behind me was designed, constructed and brought on-line during one of the most challenging periods in the history of American higher education. I want to take a moment to pay homage to everyone who worked through COVID-19 protocols to keep this project moving forward. Think about the impact of masking, social distancing, zoom meetings, coordination with contractors, all during the pandemic. A special thank you to the teams involved.”