North Platte Community College art students this semester are reaping the rewards of a yearlong renovation project that was completed with the help of fellow NPCC students.
The project was part of an effort by the Creativity Unlimited Arts Council to renovate the old post office building at Fifth and Jeffers Streets in North Platte and turn it into the Prairie Arts Center (PAC). The plans included renovating the basement in the 100-year-old building and creating an area that the college could use for its three-dimensional art classes, such as sculpture and pottery.
In December 2012, students in the college's Building Construction program, under the direction of Instructor Greg Cudzilo, built steel frames and installed sheet rock on walls in the basement of the building, dividing it into several classrooms. Work continued throughout the spring and summer months, and with the help of college students, staff and many volunteers from the community, the basement studio was ready for NPCC's fall semester art classes.
"The PAC basement has been fully renovated," said Dik Haneline, NPCC art instructor. "In the renovation, fresh paint, new HVAC, an elevator, restrooms, and walls were added. The structure has new wiring and state of the art 'green' lighting. The 'metal' studio has a ventilation system and all the rooms have metal cabinets or shelving."
Haneline said that the facility has a hand-building room and a wheel-throwing room that includes six wheels and a new pug mill. Accompanying the construction rooms are a kiln room with space to accommodate four kilns and drying room. Other studios in the basement are designed for woods, metal, and stone and will play integral roles in the "Intro to 3-D" and "Sculpture" courses.
Students this semester had the opportunity to take Ceramics I & II. Next semester's offerings include "Soup Bowl" every Saturday in February and "Intro to 3-D Design" as a 16-week course. On the books for the Summer 2014 session is "Sculpture I" (six weeks) at the PAC and "Airbrushing" (also six weeks) at the South Campus.
"One of the huge benefits of having our classes at the PAC is that we can have ceramics set up year round, develop and utilize both a wood and a metal studio for artistic pieces, and be integrated into the arts community," Haneline said. "This is a fantastic opportunity for students and/or aspiring artists to be in a developing cultural center and interact with established artisans in our community and surrounding area."
"As time passes and the PAC is renovated, more and more opportunities will be presented to our students," Haneline continued. "With the Associates of Fine Arts degree being implemented, the facility will see significant use as we meet the needs of our student body. This facility, along with the new art rooms on South campus, have the potential to bring the visual arts to the forefront in our community and region."