Some may find its winding hallways, maze-like basement, and endless rehearsal rooms intimidating, but for Grinnell Fine Arts graduates, the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts feels right at home. Lucy Polyak `23, who has a double major in theater, dance and history, described“ Bux ”as“ endearing and heartwarming… it is as it is meant to be. It looks like a building with creative people.
For any first-time visitor, Bucksbaum can be both busy and confusing. Creativity crackles throughout the building as the studio arts majors carry their sketchbooks to class, music majors range from jazz ensemble to private lessons and the belt of theater majors scales and arpeggios. The first floor is home to many of the College’s music concert halls, so a passer-by can often hear the orchestra or jazz band improvising as they walk past the large double doors of Sebring-Lewis Hall. A visitor venturing upstairs will find many classrooms, across which are art studios with scale glass and stacks of colorful papers. And finally, those who descend the stairs from the basement will find winding white hallways filled with music practice rooms and instrument storage.
Perched on a piano bench in her favorite basement practice room, Polyak pondered why Bucksbaum is unique to her. “I look for this build a lot when I’m just looking for a change of pace,” she said. “I’m going to quit my studies to go downstairs and sing for half an hour. ”
For her, Bucksbaum is not just one building among many. “It’s just different enough,” she said, “to get me out of the rut that I might be academically in and literally give myself some physical space to let my mind do other things for a while. . “
McKenna Doherty `22, a double major in English and Studio Art, said Bucksbaum can be overwhelming at first, but over time the space becomes an energizing center of talent and expression. “You kind of have to take that first step because for the most part all of these materials are there so you can use them all the time,” Doherty said. “[Eventually, though,] everyone kind of feeds off the energy of the whole place, ”Doherty continued,“ because usually you can feel when someone is working on something they’re really passionate about.
Others agree that the physical building of Bucksbaum offers an atmosphere of friendliness and creativity. Music major Bethany Willig `23 said they liked arriving at Bucksbaum 20 minutes early. “Sitting here, I could just, like, mentally prepare myself to play music, but also say ‘hello’ to all these other musicians and mingle with them before our ensembles started. ”
As for the lessons, the students suggest that Bucksbaum is a place of risk-taking. Willig explained that “it’s an open environment. People will not shoot down ideas. Doherty also encourages others to take an art class, even if it’s outside of their comfort zone. “I think it’s the perfect environment,” she said. “All of the teachers and students here are so encouraging of what you are doing.”
For some students, missing out on Bucksbaum’s physical space during the pandemic really made it clear how important he had become to them at Grinnell. “Sometimes you just need to be alone and have a room where I can do something that makes me so happy and know that room would always be there… that’s a really fundamental force in my life,” he said. Polyak said.
It’s no surprise, then, that some arts graduates were particularly injured after being kicked off campus in March 2020. Doherty was actually sitting in the main foyer at Bucksbaum when she received the email stating that the students had to go home.
Now that she has been working on art projects off campus, she has noticed that “it is interesting because I have had the opportunity to compare this space to my bedroom. [but after returning] it was so nice to be able to walk around physically and get closer to art.
There is a shared feeling among arts majors that returning to Bucksbaum was rejuvenating. Polyak said: “The best way to put it is, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned last year, drankGlad to be back.