At Webster University, DADAH builds a community with life centers around the Visual Arts Studios building and the Hunt House. Students have 24/7 access to studios and labs, and are present and working at all hours.
Students know and rely on each other, and are on a first-name basis with faculty. Classes are small, with the largest studio course being Introduction to Drawing, with 15 students, and Art History courses with 20 students. Often class size is closer to eight students, with a continuous dialogue between students and faculty, both within and outside of courses. Reviews help with this process, and foster a culture of intimate and insightful discussion while ensuring that students remain a recognized, participating voice in the community. The collegial student culture means students constantly offer each other help, and serve as a support network. Three student organizations sponsor events, including social ones such as Art Prom and professionally directed ones like the Student Art Exhibition.
Individual relationships seem to thrive and grow through discussions and collaborations on the patio or on late nights in the studios.
The culture is also defined by the department’s expectations, which focus both on the rigorous and the challenging but also a fostering of independence. For this reason the department holds an Open Studio Friday. Department courses do not formally meet on Fridays, providing students with scheduled time and opportunity to involve themselves in their projects in the studio. The practice of art requires developed discipline and independent motivation, and students are expected to be in the studios each Friday working.
Also on Friday is the Artist Lecture Series, held at noon in Sverdrup 123. This series brings in professional and practicing artists, designers, art historians, and others from the world of art. It exposes students to different ideas and practices, and helps make them aware that they are part of a larger community.
In addition, three student organizations, regular gallery openings, and other annual events such as holiday parties and Art Prom help to foster both a sense of community and a sense of fun.