Living the arts in Bingham Hall
February 18, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
also co-founded last term's Black Box Night, where she was one
of the performers.
Cellist Danny Walton '11 (above, during Black Box Night) lived
in the Art House last term, a place Becca Finney calls a “space
where artists of different disciplines can live together and inspire
At Centre College, creativity runs rampant. And one residence hall in particular serves as a kind of ground zero for students with creative passions: Bingham Hall.
Called “the Art House,” one and half hall of the building are home to students with deep interest in the arts, be it theater, music, dance or other creative disciplines.
“We're an assorted bunch here at the Art House,” David Winningham '11 of San Antonio, Texas, says. “Currently, while I'm sitting in the second floor lobby, two residents are completing music history assignments and impersonating their professor with Irish accents. Two others are talking about differential equations and quiz bowl tournaments. On the first floor, a group is watching pairs figure skating and making cookies. These activities aren't unusual here in Bingham.”
Winningham, along with Becca Finney '11 of Versailles, Ky., is responsible for the founding of the Art House, which was inspired by an open Black Box Night they organized last fall.
“Becca and I organized an evening where all of Centre’s artists could showcase their work,” Winningham says. “The walls of the Black Box were decorated with student artwork, and we entertained each other with monologues, arias and short stories. The feeling in the room that night was electric.”
Hoping to create a residence hall where that feeling was continually present, the pair formed the idea for the Art House, “a place for everyone and where inspiration is on tap,” Winningham says.
Finney adds that their noticing that the Centre art community was “rather fractured” also led to the creation of the Art House. “The visual art students 'live' in the Art Barn [formally known as the Jones Visual Arts Center], the drama students spend their time of the fifth floor of Grant, the music majors in the basement of Grant, and so on.”
As a result, she says, “No one got a lot of interaction with artists from other disciplines; everyone was stuck in their own worlds. We wanted to create a communal space where artists of different disciplines could live together and inspire one another.”
The Art House isn't “an elitist art society,” however—in fact, it's just the opposite, Finney says.
“We've got a fairly eclectic group of people living here, which is refreshing,” she says. “We have representatives from sororities and fraternities, sophomores and seniors, biology and philosophy majors. The only major thread holding us all together is some sort of participation or appreciation for the arts.”
Living together with fellow supporters of the arts had led to an intimate setting that all residents in the Art House enjoy.
“I enjoy the sense of community that the Art House shares,” Winningham says. “And the House serves as a kind of headquarters. The residents of the Art House do really interesting things on campus. Living together has allowed us to easily share and support one another in these endeavors.”
Finney explains how this engagement and support comes “by attending plays, galleries and concerts, as well as challenging each other with talks that last till three a.m.”
And though Winningham and Finney agree that the Art House has been a success, they hope to expand to provide even more creative outlets for the Centre community.
“Since this is our first year, we've had a lot of organizing and mobilizing to do,” Finney says. “As a result, we haven't gotten to expand on a campus-wide scale as much as originally planned. We did host a couple of successful events last semester that were open to the whole campus, and this spring we have famous slam poet Buddy Wakefield coming to perform. And we're absolutely going to do more. Just wait!”