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When Chris Spohn, the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design’s president for the past seven months, first moved to the Denver area from Los Angeles, he took an Uber or Lyft to campus every day.
“I’d ask whoever was driving me if they’d heard of RMCAD, and most would say they hadn’t,” he remembers. “When I asked them how long they’d been in the area, they’d all say decades.”
Spohn wants to change the college’s reputation as one of the metro area’s best kept secrets, and on Oct. 19, the school hosted a public event to celebrate a new vision for the future.
“We’re going to continue to be student-centric, but we want to make some new advancements,” he said. “It’s all about the student experience.”
One of the first steps in this new vision is updating the campus’ aesthetics, and so the event on the 19th was also an opening for the remodel in the Texas Building’s main floor, and four exhibits in the school’s galleries, and on the campus itself.
“My favorites are the giant inflatable sculptures all over the campus,” said Joshua Field, an instructor at the school for three years. “They’re in the freshman seminar class, and really show the power of collaboration.”
On a more educational level, the event also celebrated some new faculty hires the school is excited about, like Bruce Mackh, the new chair of liberal arts, who came to RMCAD from Michigan State University.
“I came to Colorado for this school, and the opportunity to be chair of a liberal arts program that includes one-third of all the courses offered,” he said. “We’re teaching the next generation of citizen artists who are aware of the time they’re living in, and the influences of the world.”
The school announced they are working to set up a new VR/motion capture stage, and are considering new programs to add in the next five years.
The college’s willingness to examine new approaches is part of the reason it remains such a vital part of the artistic renaissance happening on West Colfax, said Bill Marino, chair of the 40 West Arts District. He said the relocation of many Denver arts businesses to the West Colfax corridor reflects the power of creativity. Students from the school are already very involved in the district, interning at local galleries and creating public art.
“RMCAD is right in the heart of the art district, and is such an integral part. If they succeed, we succeed,” Marino said. “Art and culture are what makes us human, and we need places that celebrate that.”
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