The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Ode to Bucksbaum: A Hall Worth Getting to Know

Ariel J. Richards
Doherty sees Bucksbaum as an energizing hub of talent and expression. Photo by Ariel Richards.

Some may find its winding hallways, maze-like basement and infinite practice rooms intimidating, but for Grinnell fine arts majors, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts feels like home. Lucy Polyak `23, who’s double majoring in theatre and dance and history, described “Bux” as “endearing and comforting … it feels like the way it’s supposed to feel. It feels like a building where creative people are.”  

For any first-time visitor, Bucksbaum can be both busy and bewildering. Creativity crackles throughout the building as studio arts majors tote their sketchbooks to class, music majors run from jazz ensemble to private lessons and theatre majors belt scales and arpeggios. The first floor boasts many of the College’s music concert halls, so a passerby can often hear the orchestra tuning or the jazz band improvising as they walk past the large double doors of Sebring-Lewis Hall. A visitor who ventures upstairs will find many classrooms, on the other side of which are art studios with scaling glass windows and stacks of colorful paper. And finally, those who descend the basement stairs will find winding white corridors filled with music practice rooms and instrument storage. 

Polyak tends to seek Bucksbaum out when she needs a change of pace or a quick singing break from studying. Photo by Ariel Richards.

Perched on a piano bench in her favorite basement practice room, Polyak reflected on why Bucksbaum is unique to her. “I seek this building out a lot when I’m just looking for a change of pace,” she said. “I will leave studying to come down and sing for half an hour.”  

For her, Bucksbaum is not just one among many buildings. “It is just different enough,” she said, “to get me out of whatever rut I might be in academically and just give myself literally some physical space to let my mind do something else for a while.” 

McKenna Doherty `22, an English and studio art double major, said that Bucksbaum can at first be overwhelming, but over time the space becomes an energizing hub of talent and expression. “You kind of have to take that first step because for the most part there are all these materials present for you to use all the time,” Doherty said. “[Eventually, though,] everybody kind of feeds off of the energy of the whole place,” Doherty continued, “because usually you can feel when somebody is working on something they’re really passionate about.” 

Willig likes to arrive at Bucksbaum 20 minutes early for their music rehearsals. Photo by Ariel Richards.

Others agree that the physical building of Bucksbaum provides an atmosphere of friendliness and creativity. Bethany Willig `23, a music major, said they like to arrive at Bucksbaum 20 minutes early. “By sitting here, I could just, like, mentally prepare to play music, but also say ‘hi’ to all these other musicians and mingle with them before our ensembles start.”  

As for classes, students suggest that Bucksbaum is a place for taking risks. Willig explained that “it’s an open environment. People won’t shoot down ideas.” Doherty also encourages others to take an art class, even if it is out of their comfort zone. “I think it’s the perfect environment,” she said. “All the professors and all the students here are so encouraging of what you do.” 

For some students, missing out on the physical space of Bucksbaum during the pandemic really brought home just how important it had become for them at Grinnell. “Sometimes you just need to be by yourself, and having a room where I could do something that makes me so happy and know that this room was always going to be there … it is a really grounding force in my life,” said Polyak. 

It remains unsurprising, then, that some arts majors were especially hurt after being sent home from campus in March 2020. Doherty was actually sitting in Bucksbaum’s main foyer when she received the email that students had to return home.  

Now that she has experienced working on art projects away from campus, she remarked that, “it’s interesting because I had the opportunity to compare this space to my room [but after returning] it was just so nice being able to physically walk around and get close to the art.” 

There is a shared sentiment amongst the arts majors that reentering Bucksbaum was rejuvenating. Polyak said, “The best way to put it is, I am grateful for the lessons I learned in the last year, but I am glad to be back.” 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Allison Moore
Allison Moore, Staff Writer
Allison is a fourth-year gender, women's, and sexuality studies major from Granville, Ohio. In her spare time, she can be found crafting, cooking, and cuddling with her kitten, Koda. If you think her mini crossword is too hard, then too bad.
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *