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School of Art and Design Celebrates 10 Years
By West Kentucky Star Staff/WKCTC
PADUCAH -  In 2008, stock markets around the world plunged amid growing fears of a U.S. recession, fueled by the 2007 mortgage crisis.

Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continued, and the Newseum opened its doors in Washington D.C. on April 11, 2018. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama became the first African-American President-elect in the United States of America.

That year also marked the beginning of West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Paducah School of Art. A little over ten years later, the college celebrated its continued success and community support for what is today known as Paducah School of Art and Design.

Dr. Barbara Veazey, WKCTC president emeritus, couldn't quite believe it had been 10 years since the college had set out to start an art school in the river city known as Paducah, Ky.

"Then it came back to me, the time, the struggles, the building on Broadway, then all of those years came flooding back," said Veazey, during the college's 10-year anniversary celebration for its PSAD on February 22-23, 2019.

"They were hard years," said Veazey, "but what wonderful years they were as we built this beautiful art program, the Paducah School of Art and Design (and) this beautiful building … it was a creation that was more than we ever dreamed of."

The revitalization of Paducah, Kentucky's historic LowerTown neighborhood began with the creation of the award-winning Artist Relocation Program in March 2000. Eight years later through a collaborative effort between the City of Paducah, WKCTC and regional interests, the vision of a world-class art school to anchor the region and the City of Paducah as an arts destination was launched.

PSAD opened in temporary studios in August 2008 at 409 Broadway in downtown Paducah and immediately exceeded expectations in growth. The school's 2-D programs, including drawing, painting and digital photography were housed in the historic high-ceilinged storefront and former department store located four blocks from Paducah's riverfront.

In 2010, WKCTC established the Commonwealth's first Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) degree, preparing students to transfer to a four-year university or art school with Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. WKCTC awarded its first AFA degree in May 2011

In January 2013 the first phase of a PSAD expansion process was completed with the renovation of a historic 6,700-square-foot studio building, which housed ceramics and small metals programs. The Ceramics and Small Metals Building features separate studios for wheel-throwing and hand building, glazing and electric kiln rooms, as well as three metals studios.

PSAD opened its 7,000-square-foot Sculpture Building in August 2014, creating studios for woodworking, metals fabrication and new technology.

The last of the three-building PSAD campus was once known as the Kitchens Inc. building. The 32,228-square-foot brick building was turned over by the City of Paducah to the WKCTC on October 31, 2007 for use by the art school. After being renovated, the 2D and Graphic design building opened in 2016 and houses classrooms and labs for painting, two-dimensional art, drawing, and graphics, as well as a recording room, an art gallery, and a café.

This year, WKCTC's art school held several events and exhibitions leading up to a February 22 reception and a February 23 block bash, which offered the community throughout Paducah and in LowerTown to participate in a host of hands-on creative and artist activities.

Dr. Anton Reece, WKCTC president for nearly three years, said the art school's 10th year milestone was not only historic but also important to recognize the economic impact the arts have on the community.

A recent state assessment of McCracken County in terms of the collective impact of the arts stated there is about $10.7 million supporting the arts within Paducah/McCracken County, Dr. Reece said. He added that the assessment also noted more than 43,000 students who have been engaged in some aspect of the arts in Paducah/McCracken County and the arts have provided about 225 full-time, part-time and contract jobs in the community.

Chris Cathers, the executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council, recently said you strengthen the value and visibility of the arts when you connect people and places where they find value.

"That's what we do here at this location," Dr. Reece said. "We connect people where they find value, value in terms of enrichment in their lives, their vocations, and their life's journey. That's what we do here at Paducah School of Art and Design."

Anne Gwinn was chair of the Paducah Junior College, Inc., the foundation for WKCTC, when the art school was officially born in 2008. With the support of the foundation, WKCTC was able to accept the former Kitchens building that was given to the college by the City of Paducah. The building eventually became the centerpiece to the art school's three-building campus. Gwinn surprised Dr. Veazey by recognizing her vision and commitment to the art school with a gift from the WKCTC.

Dr. Veazey, who retired as WKCTC president in 2016, said today's Paducah School of Art and Design was more than she ever envisioned in 2008. "I think about all that has happened in those 10 years," she said. "And you know, it was never about the college; it was always about the community and what we could do in the arts for the community and for the Commonwealth. And I think you are achieving that under the direction of Paul (Aho) and the wonderful faculty and staff who are at this college."

For more information about WKCTC's Paducah School of Art and Design, visit paducahschoolofartanddesign.org.

Published 01:10 AM, Sunday Mar. 10, 2019
Updated 11:17 PM, Saturday Mar. 09, 2019

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