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FP Program Celebrates 25 Years

Sohail Hashmi Named 2005 Carnegie Scholar

Science Symposium Highlights MHC Student Work

2004-2005 Faculty Award Winners

Meet FP Scholar Elizabeth Hamlin

MHC Extends Its Reach into Holyoke at Open Square

Students Raise Funds to Build Library in Cameroon

MHC Newsmakers

MHC Milestones

MHC Notices

MHC Happenings

Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives
May 6, 2005

MHC Extends Its Reach into Holyoke at Open Square

Art, business, and culture have proven to be leading forces for economic development in urban areas. Mount Holyoke and Open Square, a seven-building mill complex between the canals in Holyoke, are forging a partnership that is becoming a role model for other local institutions of higher education.

MHC art professor Joe Smith got the notion of collaborating with Open Square last year when the College hired assistant art professor Rie Hachiyanagi and visiting studio artist Ann Rosenthal. Smith said he was concerned that the two new artists “needed the kind of studio space the College does not have. We have always had a crush on studio space, and these new hires put us in a serious deficit.” Hachiyanagi’s work is in installation, performance art, and hand papermaking; Rosenthal addresses the social and natural histories of post-industrial communities, such as Holyoke, through large, mixed-media installations.

Smith consulted with dean of faculty Don O’Shea and the acting dean Penny Gill about the space shortage and the possibility of renting studio space in the area. After scouting out properties in South Hadley and Holyoke, the College decided that Open Square best suited its needs. “It had the most rehabilitated space, it was clean, well-lit, and had a generosity of space we were looking for—30,000 square feet per floor,” Smith said. “We also wanted a safe building protected by alarms and security guards.”

The College began its involvement with Open Square by renting studio space for Hachiyanagi. She makes paper by hand from plant fibers for her artworks, and the papermaking process requires a dedicated space. “It is a fascinating experience to make paper at such a historic paper mill. Perhaps some old spirits of papermakers will inspire me with new kinds of works,” said Hachiyanagi.

When Ann Rosenthal needed a large space for staging a multidisciplinary “water extravaganza” for the Weissman Center’s series on water, Open Square struck her as the perfect venue: “I sought out a nontraditional, industrial space that would give students the freedom to work big, experiment, and respond to the location and its history. I wanted to include multiple disciplines to highlight a range of interpretations on water. A smaller, formal gallery space would not have allowed for such diversity and participation.”

The April 8 event, titled Water Works, featured artwork by more than 80 students, including drawings, prints, sculpture, video, performance pieces, and installations, as well as two research posters by students in the Global Feminism course taught by Giovanna Di Chiro, research associate in geography and women’s studies.

The event was well received and well attended by more than 200 students and faculty from the Five Colleges. “Ann put together a great meeting of the disciplines, including dance, theatre, music, and studio art,” said Smith. Shuttle buses ran between MHC and Open Square.

Smith and the other professors involved in Water Works—including dance professor Jim Coleman, visiting professor of theatre arts Holger Teschke, and professor of theatre arts Roger Babb—were pleased with how well Open Square accommodated the event. “We are just getting our feet wet at Open Square at this point,” Smith said. “Water Works showed us that the relationship between the College and Open Square has concrete possibilities for future collaboration.”

Holyoke architect John Aubin, who owns the property, is planning a mixed-use development, using culture and the arts as a major vehicle for economic development. With a total of 685,000 square feet, Open Square has abundant room for art studios and performance space. Open Square is already renting to several artists and more than 30 businesses, including some high tech companies.

Aubin has talked with many departments at Mount Holyoke and other local colleges about using the space. “The arts and education are a key component of our Open Square project. We are thrilled to have Mount Holyoke come on board,” said Aubin. “It’s a great opportunity for the College to get directly involved with the Holyoke community.”

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