Tie Dye. Homemade pottery. Bartending. All are things one can make or learn at Stony Brook’s Craft Center and ceramic studio.
But that creative spark might not stay lit for much longer.
The Union will be shutting its doors for renovation in January 2016. Clubs and organizations with home bases in the 46-year-old building have already started hearing where they will be headed next year.
So far, mum’s the word when it comes to the Craft Center and the ceramic studio. Without a new space, they will be forced to shut down.
“The Craft Center is in a unique situation,” Emily Brownawell, a senior studio art and psychology major, said. “We’re not a club and as of yet, it has not been given a new space, a temporary space. But it also hasn’t been given space in the new infrastructure that’s going to be coming after reconstruction is over.”
The Craft Center is known around campus for its free craft nights and not-for-credit classes such as bartending.
“They should be relocated,” Madeline Colli, a senior English major, wrote on Facebook. “I loved going to their stuffed animal makeover event this semester.”
The Craft Center has also been known to bring arts and crafts to campus events like Relax-a-thon and Chillfest.
Students have started a petition seeking to save the Craft Center from closing. Per the petition, the Craft Center has been in business for nearly four decades. About 2,000 students, faculty and community pass through every academic year. 100 of those artsy folk use the ceramic studio, complete with pottery wheels and kilns.
The petition needed 1,000 signatures for consideration. As of last week, there were more than 1,200 signatures.
“The petition definitely helped get attention,” Brownawell said.
That attention came in the form of a meeting with Dean of Students Timothy Ecklund. Brownawell said that the meeting went well, though there was not necessarily a solution presented, and there was another scheduled for finals week.
Brownawell said that the Craft Center does not need much to keep going with free Crafts Night or classes like bartending. The first priority is to have a space, preferably with sinks and a closet and without a carpet.
The space does not necessarily need to be as large as the current one, but the ceramic studio is a different story.
The ceramic studio needs a setup for kilns to cook clay creations, including the proper venting.
The Craft Center and the ceramic studio, the petition says, also give students breathing room in an intensive academic environment. The center provides a resource to relax and just hang out without any added pressure.
“I think that the craft center is a fabulous asset to the university, as it is used as a stress reliever for many students on campus…” Taylor Bouraad, a junior marine vertebrate biology major, wrote on Facebook. “I think this would be a tremendous loss.”
“The students who use this studio get an exposure they wouldn’t get in other classrooms,” Brownawell said. “They are able to interact with faculty and community members on a different kind of basis that is more equal, I think, than you would find elsewhere. It’s a really valuable place in that you can get a creative outlet.”
Kelly Zegers contributed reporting to this story.