Springfield College’s Visual and Performing Arts Department Thrives on Creativity and its Students

Photo Courtesy of Drew Broffman
Photo Courtesy of Drew Broffman

Patrick Kenney

During the first few days of classes when students have class in Blake Hall, a few of them can be found wandering the circle that is Blake Arena only to be puzzled as to why their professor had sent them to the gymnasium.

Yes there are two different Blake buildings on campus and although one is an arena and one houses multiple departments, they have similarities.

Where Blake Arena sees athletic young basketball players slicing through an opposing defense, Blake Hall also houses slicing and splicing just in its own unique format.

As one part of the Visual and Performing Arts department (VAPA) at Springfield College, the second floor to Blake Hall finds itself home to a variety of unique people, majors and equipment.

The headliners: a 3D printer, state of the art Mac Lab and two full art galleries filled with stories from community and college artists. A unique touch to campus, the art galleries bring color, texture, style through paintings, photography and sculptures that cannot be found anywhere else on campus.

But unlike most galleries or high-tech equipment, VAPA’s furnishings are for learning, hands-on experiences and the development of students.

Much like the athletic teams that thrive under the Blake Arena lights, VAPA thrives because of its students.

“Every student has their journey,” said VAPA Chair Martin Shell. “If [the department] is successful it is because we have students who bring passion…they discover what it is they want to say through their work.”

Shell explained that the students’ interaction with others, on and off campus fueled by their passion and technique to express, all culminates in their work portraying what it is they want to say.

“We have fantastic students in all of our programs that help [the department] keep moving forward,” Shell continued.

VAPA is home to many disciplines including art, art therapy, computer graphics/digital arts, dance, etc. The uniqueness about the department is that it stretches to each corner of campus, with Blake Hall, the Townhouses and Fuller Arts all claiming stake to some form of VAPA.

Despite the inadvertent triangle shape and the spread of the department’s campus homes, their mission and passion to drive students forward truly unites all of their forces.

“We want to give our students challenging opportunities, help them take risks, connect them with professionals, and find who they are in their field of choice.”

Historically, every department has highs and lows where prominence on campus isn’t always in the forefront. But for VAPA, despite their ups and downs, their battle plan has always been focused on students nurturing their creativity.

“Creativity is part of being a whole person. It only enhances, nurtures and feeds the other parts of you. The skills we develop in one area of our lives give us tools we can use to develop other areas of our lives,” said Shell.

While the games held inside Blake Arena might draw more crowds, the walls of Blake Hall, the Townhouses and Fuller Arts tell their own story. It is a story filled with passion, drive and creativity, all fueled by students.

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