While perhaps you are unsure of what art exactly is, a wonderful opportunity to meet amazing artists and art lovers is available on campus. The ART House is located in the Schmidt House on St. Olaf Avenue for the second year in a row. Professor John Saurer is the faculty advisor. Eight talented women live in the ART House this year.
This year's members include a variety of majors: Katie Dobie '08, a political science and Asian Studies double-major; Rachel Carlin '08, an art and art history major; Molly Nelson '08, a theater and art double-major; Amy Sonnichsen '08, an art and art History major; Charlotte Daring '08, an environmental studies major; Natalie Spencer '08, an English major; Sarah Wallis '08, an art education major; and Leah Klister '08, an art education major. In the spring, two members, Ellen Roth '08 and Julie Boehmer '08, who are both art majors, will return after studying abroad.
The ART House aims to provide "creative access" to everyone. "We don't want to just be an Art major group," Klister said. The housemates represent a broad range of majors, but the unifying factor is a common passion for art. "They all appreciate art, and they're glad to be a part of the house and to have this outlet. It's better for the Art majors too, because we don't want to be cultish!"
"Art can be intimidating," Dobie said. One goal of the ART House is to be welcoming to each visitor, art major or not. The ART House members strive to "make opportunities for non-art majors," Klister said. One way the ART House achieves this goal is by showing foreign films at the house and inviting students over for various events.
The ART House décor is creative, yet not overly ornate. Photographs and paintings line every wall, and a vase full of paintbrushes sits atop a table. "It's eclectic," Klister said. "We all bring a little something to the house."
The house members are also leaders of the co-curricular club called P.I.C.A.S.S.O. This three-year old group strives to share ideas to promote awareness of art on campus and in the community. P.I.C.A.S.S.O. hosts various activities throughout the year, such as visits to art galleries and service activities.
Last year's members of the ART House helped raise money for the Northfield elementary schools by hosting the Halloween Dance, selling pieces at the Artisans' Bazaar, and sponsoring a coloring contest. In all, $1,300 worth of paper supplies were donated to the Northfield school districts. This was an enormous gift considering the fact that each student is allotted roughly $5 worth of art supplies per single school year.
Moreover, the members stress they want to promote awareness of art departments that continually lose funds. Shadowing a St. Paul art teacher, Klister revealed that his yearly stipend was a meager $500.
"In Northfield, we are fortunate it is an upper-class community and strong supporter of the arts, but helping people realize the decreasing opportunities and support for art departments, both in the community and out, is one of primary goals," Klister stated.
As the ART House aims to support art, they know it's important "to have a plan, think realistically, and think locally," Wallis said. They keep track of all their projects on a giant bulletin board to keep track of short-term and long-term goals.
Every member of the house showed enthusiasm for the ART House photo contest starting this fall. The photo contest is open to all St. Olaf students. Five to seven winners will be announced in various categories and the photographs will be displayed in the Buntrock Commons during Christmas Festival. While the contest is not yet official, Wallis advises, "look out and be taking pictures!"
Every Sunday night, the housemates gather for a family dinner where they discuss projects and spend quality together. The housemates take turns making some dinner to share.
These housemates have been friends since their first-year. "The best part of our Sunday nights is the highs and lows,"Klister said. "We're all really close."
Klister's housemates echo her sentiments. "I get to live with my best friends, network with really neat people and make a difference in the community," Wallis said. "Who could want more?"
Watch out for the first ART House event this Fall. The housemates are in the midst of planning for an open meeting. There will be treats, but nothing ordinary. At the ART House, they promise to serve edible art for all.
Feel free to contact members of the ART House for more information about upcoming events , or if you want to become involved with the house or P.I.C.A.S.S.O.