Arts and Culture / News

Nagel Art Studios provide function and inspiration

DU art student Austin Zuchini-Fowler painted this mural in the University's Nagel Art Studios.

One work of Austin Zucchini-Fowler is striking both in size and in artistry, and it would not have been possible in DU’s former facilities.

Zucchini-Fowler, a senior art major from Phoenix, is painting a massive mural on one of the walls of the new painting studio. He’s employing techniques he learned over his time at DU, such as layering and taping, with attention to symmetry, balance and color theory.

“Originality is the most exciting thing about art,” he says. “Patterns from nature situate differently with each artist, and it’s fascinating to see how they develop. My work is about design, aesthetics and beauty. I like the element of planned surprise that comes with taping, because when you remove the tape, you reveal the design of the art.”

The mural wall is one of many aspects of the increased functionality provided by the Nagel Art Studios, which are less than a year old. The studios were created through the financial support of donors Ralph and Trish Nagel for DU faculty and students to create, learn and explore artistic craft in a space designed for functionality and inspiration.

For instance, students have studio spaces of their own within the painting studio. Additionally, all of the elements within the painting studio — including the walls — are on wheels, which “makes this space adaptable for our needs,” says Deborah Howard, associate professor DU’s School of Art and Art History. “The space can be changed — and is changed — every quarter according to the needs of the students. It feels much more like an art center than a classroom.”

The painting studio also provides significantly more space to display art, including one feature added by Ralph Nagel himself. The wall railings he designed are used to dry artwork, stage critiques and display student work.  

“It’s inspiring to be able to see what other classes are working on,” says Zucchini-Fowler. “People like being here. Other students wander in to check things out, and it’s not obtrusive when people walk in.” 

According to Howard, Zucchini-Fowler’s work has improved dramatically over the past year. Both professor and student agree that the new studios have played a part in that progression.

“It’s an exciting space for our students,” Howard says. “And parents of prospective students say that this is the most impressive space they’ve seen. With the natural light, the space for murals, and innovative features like the ventilated counter for encaustic — the ancient Egyptian practice of painting with hot wax — this is an amazing space.”

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