The Tyler School of Art held a dedication ceremony on Wednesday to celebrate the new $76 million facility on Temple University’s Main Campus.
More than 500 students, alumni, friends and faculty flooded the lobby to celebrate the beginning of a new era for the Tyler School of Art.
Tyler Interim Dean Therese Dolan kicked off the program, calling the school “the north star on the Avenue of the Arts.”
Student work could be seen in almost every direction, right down to the symbolic ribbon crafted to cut at the ceremony.
Dolan called herself the caboose dean for the project’s long period of plotting, planning and preparing that was handed down through several deans and began with the ideas of Peter Liacouras.
Michael Buczola, who graduated from Tyler in 1988, said the move was an idea even when he attended school there.
“There was talk about Tyler moving to Temple’s Main Campus when I was in school,” he said. “I was one of the people to fight it, we wanted to stay up there [in Elkins Park]. But now I can see the community it creates.”
As the ceremony continued, community was certainly a central recurring theme.
The building’s architect, Carlos Jiminez, posed the question, “Why do artists arrive as a community instead of scattered in buildings?”
The Elkins Park campus was divided into different buildings for specific programs, while the new Main Campus building brings all the art programs together under one roof.
Dolan mentioned one collaborative and communal effort that involved sculpture students who declared war on four neighboring art schools by placing large scale Trojan horses inside each the school’s buildings.
The response from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts was on display on the first floor of the building during yesterday’s ceremony. PAFA disassembled the Trojan horse and converted it into a chariot where they placed their own Helen of Troy sculpture, accompanied with a note that said return to sender.
After the presentation and ribbon cutting, guests were encouraged to check out the Trojan horse and explore how the new community of Tyler students adapted to the building’s design, which Jiminez called a creative space to inspire.
He said the blank corners in the building are meant to generate corners of imagination in the minds of students.
That imagination was present in the photographs, paintings, prints, ceramics jewelry and more displayed from corner to corner on all four floors of what Ann Weaver Hart said was, “already a well-used art building.”
Alum and founder of Woman’s Art Journal Elisa Konig Fine, who graduated from Tyler in 1967, had been to the new building when it first opened in January, and returned Wednesday to see the latest.
“It was too clean when I first saw it,” said Fine, 78. “But now it actually looks like artists are here … it makes me want to put on my jeans and get my hands dirty.”
Students and alumni mixed and mingled, reminiscing about their Elkins Park past and reveling in the future possibilities of this new Main Campus community.
Mary Hagenbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.