The Windgate Visual Arts Center is the creative heart and soul of the Millsaps College campus, and the place where dreams and ideas take shape and form.
The Windgate Center boasts the finest in studio spaces for painting, drawing, printing and papermaking, woodworking, sculpting (with a foundry) and digital art. The 17,300 square foot building sits on the west side of campus, adjacent to a new gate on West Street.
Support for Millsaps’ Windgate Center started with a $2.5 million challenge grant from the Windgate Foundation in Arkansas. The Windgate Foundation has supported contemporary craft and visual arts since 1993, including support of visual arts programming; materials, tools and equipment for visual arts; art-integrated instructional programming and art-related scholarships in higher education.
A major gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Foundation helped drive other gifts from individual alumni and donors.
Millsaps faculty are confident that students, regardless of their major, will find the building an inspiring space.
“The new building gives students (majors and non-majors) safe access to a variety of studios that encourage creativity, collaboration, and interdisciplinary making,” said Kristen Tordella-Williams, associate professor of studio art. “From our brand-new foundry and metal fabrication studio, to a dedicated woodshop space, a well-appointed hand papermaking studio, expansive printmaking studio, as well as drawing, painting, and Mac Lab spaces give students the opportunity to work with a variety of contemporary and traditional techniques and processes. Even more special are our dedicated student studios where our majors have personal studio space in their junior and senior years. The student studios are a hotbed of ideas, community, and collaboration.”
Dr. Elise Smith, professor of art history and the Sanderson Chair of Arts and Sciences, sees the Hall Gallery as a symbol of what happens in the building.
“Seeing the gallery immediately when students enter the building is a very enticing introduction to what our department is committed to: a collaboration between the making of art in the studios and the analysis of art in our art history classrooms,” Smith said.
Tordella-Williams echoed Smith’s description.
“The Hall Gallery has allowed us to host spectacular installations from incredible artists like Leticia Bajuyo and George Beasley,” she said. “Students were invited to assist these artists in their installations and learned hands on from contemporary makers how to present their work in an exhibition. Since the building opened in the fall of 2019, we’ve had over 10 exhibitions (group, solo, student, and faculty), that showcase our community’s creativity and technical achievements. Our majors present their work in the Hall Gallery for their capstone exhibitions and have the opportunity to show their work in a professional and stunning space.”
Whether pursuing a degree in studio art, digital arts or art history, students will find no better space to help them bring their innovations to artistic practice.