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Arts & Culture

Clarvit Studio and Courtyard Expands Artistic Possibilities at UMD

New Space and Resources Enhance University’s Arts for All Initiative

By Sala Levin ’10

giant screen

A towering 25-by-30 foot screen at the Mitchell Art-Sociology Building will highlight work in the College of Arts and Humanities. It's part of the new Clarvit Studio and Courtyard for Research in Art and Design, backed by a $2.25 million gift by Nancy ’78 and Chuck Clarvit.

Photos by John T. Consoli

A new indoor-outdoor space in the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building is projecting students’ artworks onto a mega-screen—and a new future for the arts at the University of Maryland.

On Thursday evening, faculty, staff and UMD supporters gathered in the Clarvit Studio and Courtyard for Research in Art and Design to mark its official dedication. The space, which has been open for use since the fall semester, offers cutting-edge technology, updated facilities and a 25-by-30-foot screen on which to highlight the work coming out of the College of Arts and Humanities.

“The Clarvit Studio and Courtyard represent 3,000 square feet of transformed space for our art students and faculty,” said university President Darryll J. Pines. “It is where students … can take their artistic pursuits to the next level, and this beautiful courtyard will be an unparalleled exhibition space that highlights the work of students, faculty and visiting artists.”

Clarvits at Clarvit Courtyard dedication
Surrounded by family, friends, UMD students and staff and others, Chuck (left) and Nancy Clarvit watch the new giant screen at the dedication of the Clarvit Studio and Courtyard on Thursday.

Nancy ’78 and Chuck Clarvit backed the new facilities with a $2.25 million gift. At Thursday’s dedication, she told the crowd that she entered UMD as a freshman “pursuing what I thought I should do”: a degree in business. But soon, she realized that her passion lay in art, and she ultimately graduated with a degree in graphic design. Clarvit, now a member of the university foundation’s board of trustees, went on to a career in New York City as an art director for graphic design firms and an interior designer.

Inside the studio, students can now use 3D scanners, depth-sensing cameras, laser cutters and circuitry equipment. The event showcased some of the work they’ve created with the new tools: kinetic wood art, an etching that uses coding and laser cutters to visually depict tonal changes of a favorite song, and a light installation in which a microcontroller tracks a viewer’s movements and lights up accordingly.

“We have been able to give our students access to emerging technologies in the arts and design, and the students have responded by making engaging works of art using augmented reality, digital fabrication and creative coding practices,” said Brandon Morse, associate professor and chair of the Department of Art. “It has enlivened our student community, and given them new means of creative outlet.”

Dan Ortiz-Leizman MFA ’23, recipient of the 2023 Clarvit faculty and graduate student research fellowship, echoed the invigorating impact of the Clarvits’ gift. “The access to equipment that the Clarvit Studio has provided is still unbelievable to me,” they said. “It’s a great feeling as an artist to know that the resources you need to make your work are only down the hallway.”

College of Arts and Humanities Dean Stephanie Shonekan emphasized the crucial role that the studio and courtyard will play in the university’s Arts for All initiative, which highlights the connections among art, technology and social justice, ensuring that “the arts are woven into the very fabric of life at the University of Maryland.”

Schools & Departments:

College of Arts and Humanities

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