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Art House bridges divide between art and students

Radhika Malaviya ’18, Anna Warm '19, Vivian Cheslack '19, Leina’ala Voss ’18 and Jinlin He '18 sit on the porch of Art House, a new project house. Photo by Garrett Wang.
Radhika Malaviya ’18, Anna Warm ’19, Vivian Cheslack ’19, Leina’ala Voss ’18 and Jinlin He ’18 sit on the porch of Art House, a new project house. Photo by Garrett Wang.

Watch out, Bucksbaum, there’s a new Art House in town. Last year, Jinlin He ’18 and Qianxue “Sno” Zhao ’19 decided to bring a student residential art space to Grinnell to foster and increase recognition of abilities and interest. Thus, Art House on 1023 Park St. was born just a couple of days after the duo submitted their proposal.

“We believe that all forms of art are connected, and that is important for all different kinds of artist[s] to understand because that’s how art works throughout any time in history,” said Zhao in an email to The S&B. “We tried to have different types of artists (visual, musicians, dancers, etc.) to live together and develop and support relationships between art communities on campus.”

Currently, eight students including Zhao and He live in Art House: Anna Warm ’19, the house coordinator for Fall 2016, Vivien Cheslack ’19, Anna Tuchin ’19, Leina’ala Voss ’18, Radhika Malaviya ’18 and Josephine Sloyan ’18. Kirsten Gillis ’18 will join them in Spring 2017 and serve as house coordinator after her semester abroad. Despite their common interests, these housemates have an unusual origin.

“[Jinlin and Sno] pretty much found all of us on Free & For Sale,” Warm said.

So far, this almost coincidental matching has worked well for them, as all the housemates agree the best thing about the house is the people, though Warm also celebrated when she found out the house she’d be sharing came with air conditioning.

“I think that most of us didn’t know each other before [moving in],” Tuchin added. “But for example, [Malaviya] is my roommate, and I pretty much met her this year, and it’s been pretty good so far.”

All housemates bond over creative writing as a main artistic interest, but each brings a different art medium as well.

“I like to kind of smash everything together into these like heaving ungodly masses,” Tuchin said. “A lot of it is verbal and visual because, for me, that divide doesn’t exist too strongly. To be human, the most important thing that you need are stories of various sorts.”

Others, like Cheslack and Malaviya, have discovered new artistic interests thanks to a full and working kitchen in the house.

“I like to bake, which is [an] awesome part of having a kitchen,” Cheslack said. “I really want to get into cake decorating but it hasn’t happened yet — it’s one of my goals for the semester.”

Although the group has only had two dinners together — affectionately referred to as family dinners — they have all individually created some foods. So far, Malaviya’s eggplant yogurt, a recipe from her mother, has been a big hit.

More than providing an art-centered space, the house has been able to provide for artists in a way the school cannot.

“On this campus, there are art spaces, but it’s often difficult to find yourself in a space with like-minded art people all at once,” said Sloyan.

Cheslack, Voss and Warm also added that not everyone in the house had the fortune to become studio art majors or to get fully involved in their specific art styles. Voss, for example, intended to major in studio art, but could not get into the right classes at the right time. Warm specializes in scenic design and performance. However, one of the main goals of Art House is to make it an art space for all artists, regardless if they live in the house or not. It doesn’t matter if they had become an artist on craft day in elementary school, or more recently.

“We’re trying to bridge the divide between art and students,” Warm said.

To help create the bridge, Art SEPC and Tiny Dorm Concerts have reached out to Art House to assist the house in achieving their main objective. An open show with the three of them is in the very near future.

“[Art House is] another venue for student artists to showcase their work,” explained Voss.

Tuchin also stresses how Art House can be accessible to all in that it can be a location to store art pieces.  With people like these eight, it is quite easy to see Art House replacing Bucksbaum as the student-artist headquarters.


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