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Arts & sciences ~ 21st century style

  • UMES a pioneer in Maryland Public Art Initiative

    Thursday, October 22, 2020
    Architect's rendering of the new health professions building

    As construction workers focus on installing exterior walls for UMES' new academic building before winter sets in, planning also is underway on the finished appearance of its common space. 

    The Maryland State Arts Council is coordinating a search for artists who can provide the three-story structure a signature look beyond its architectural design. 

    Built into the $90 million cost of construction footed by the state of Maryland is money specifically for “the integration of public art in new … state buildings.”  UMES has been allocated $260,000 to meet that objective, including $85,000 earmarked for “entrance plazas and sidewalks.” 

    UMES and Coppin State University in Baltimore are the state's first historically black institutions to participate in the Maryland Public Art Initiative. 

    The initiative, according to the state arts council, “is the state's percent-for-art program that commissions artists to design new, original and site-specific public art integrated in state capital construction projects.” 

    Dr. Rondall Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, told WMDT the goal is to pick art that “will encourage students and resonate with them.” 

    “We're hoping that they will be able to see a reflection of themselves,” Allen said. “Something that's extremely creative and vibrant that represents health professions - and what we do for this community.” 

    The construction schedule calls for the 125,000 square-foot building to be finished in 2022, and the first classes scheduled there for the fall semester.  It sits on the east side of campus across the street from the Engineering and Aviation Science Complex.

    Mid-October 2020

    The new building will enable UMES to consolidate its far-flung pharmacy program under one roof while providing some instructional space for physician assistant and physical therapy studies to foster collaboration between the disciplines. 

    Artists who want to compete for the commission to display their work permanently at UMES must submit an application by Thanksgiving week.

    An artist selection panel will review the applicant pool.  Its membership will include “staff of the new building, (the) architect and/or landscape architect, the (Maryland Public Arts Council) commissioner and an art professional / community member.” 

    Allen said he's thought a lot lately about finding the right balance between the serious work that will be taking place in traditionally drab lecture halls and laboratories and the public space where students, employees and university guests might meet and mingle. 

    “It's important for people to be comfortable, to relax - even be inspired when they come into this building,” he said. 

    The artist selection panel will identify three semi-finalists for the commissioned work and bring each to campus for in-person interviews. 

    The artist selected will work with the university in “implementing the building project and commence artwork concept development working … with … architects, landscape architects, engineers, project managers, and contractors,” the state arts council website says. 

    The artwork, the council says, will be “designed, developed, and fabricated and installed in conjunction with the building project construction schedule, typically a two-year process or more.”