W.A.S.H emulates boot camp atmosphere for artists

The curriculum of W.A.S.H. is extensive and even said to be “overwhelming” in certain cases, but out of the program many artists are pursuing a professional career in the arts.

Workshop in Art Studio and History, or W.A.S.H., is unlike the usual studio foundations program. It has an immersive, experimental studio environment for exploring and creating different forms of art, officials said.

After completing this course, students will have completed a total of nine credit hours. There are three separate courses, which include two studio sections and a Friday lecture. W.A.S.H. exposes students to a variety of styles, approaches, material, and perceptions.

Before entering the program, many students are informed by former art students about the challenges of the W.A.S.H. Program.

“I heard that W.A.S.H. was pretty intense, and I was pretty intimidated and scared,” Ashton Miller said. “I expected a lot of work and harsh deadlines.”

Some students were even told that they would not be getting a lot of sleep, in part, due to the multiple group projects and prompt deadlines.

Past participants of the program said it had a lasting effect on its students.

“I might like to call W.A.S.H. the ‘identity check’ because you are not the same person afterward as opposed to who you were before,” mentor for W.A.S.H Ashton Leath said. “You change and mold into the professional you will become in the real world, and W.A.S.H. is like a jumpstart into that process.”

Other students say they realize their futures, or lack thereof, as artists during their stint in the program.

As former art student and current mentor Luis Guitan said, “Once you come out of it, you look around you, and you realize the true meaning of art.”

Valerie Powell, assistant professor of art and foundations coordinator, runs the W.A.S.H. program.

According to Powell the W.A.S.H. Program is like an art boot camp that prepares the students for the real world while also teaching them social skills. It is supposed to challenge and push the students, giving them a good base for their other upcoming art courses.

“We try to instill in our students to take chances, to take risks,” she said. “Not to be afraid to try something new.”

She is currently incorporating “Habits”, this year’s novel for Read to Succeed, in the W.A.S.H. Program as a studio art project.

Tony Shipp who was the previous art department chair founded the program in 2009. Shipp attended the University of Florida, where he found his inspiration in their art program called W.A.R.P. (Workshop for Art Research and Practice).

Henderson spoke about the desire to expand the program.

“The W.A.S.H. program is very successful,” he said. “Other schools are interested because it is the only program of its kind in Texas.”

The art department rented a space in downtown Huntsville where there will be an art gallery for student work later in the fall semester.

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