The Cullman Art Wing, Reimagined


Jerry Sheng ’20

Sunlight filters in as art student January-Jones Carter ’19 begins a sketch in the newly designed and remodelled art studio.

If you have been to the lower floor of Main Building, then you may have noticed the newly transformed Cullman Art Center. Each year, the graduating Hotchkiss class identifies a project to undertake to give back to the school. For the class of 2017, that project was the EFX Lab. The Class of 2018 chose to support a planned renovation of the art wing, recognizing that the cherished space deserved a makeover.

When Mr. Rob Bristow and Mrs. Pilar Bristow, parents of Grace Bristow ’18 and Ellis Bristow ’20, from the Bristow Proffitt Studio started redesigning the space, they sought community feedback. The Bristows surveyed students and faculty to document their physical needs and hopes for the renovation. After nearly seven years of planning and raising funds for the project, it was finally put into action this past summer. Mr. J. Bradley Faus, director and instructor of art, also collaborated with the Bristows, stripping each room down to a shell and working with them to curate the furniture, layout, and materials.

The original art studio occupied the area that is now the Hatch Classroom in the Edsel Ford Memorial Library. The Cullman Art Wing was a student lounge; it was never truly a new space.  The art department was then relocated to the lower level of main building in 1992.  It was only after the Class of 2017 bestowed this gift upon the school that the art wing was given a renovated space best suited for students to create.

Each piece of custom-made furniture was created to adapt to the needs of the artist. From tables with glass surfaces for inking to dimmable studio lights, the art wing assists students through their artistic process step-by-step.

Though the art wing has changed, the atmosphere has remained the same. “I’ve been [working] in [the art wing] for four years now, so I’ve watched it change from before the renovation to after the renovation,” says January Jones-Carter ’19. “I mean, it’s changed, but it has the same essence.”

With new furniture, finishes, and panels on the walls and corridors, the renovated art wing is now a new environment that encourages deep artistic exploration. “[The] spaces have been transformed, not simply upgraded… These are wonderful enhancements to support Hotchkiss’s world-class art program,” says Mr. Craig Bradley, Hotchkiss head of school. “You can tell I am enthusiastic about this project!”