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The second of a two-part “Valley Arts” television series on Lafayette’s award-winning, nationally recognized Williams Visual Arts Building will premiere 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on RCN Channel 4. Repeat telecasts will occur at 7:30 p.m. each Wednesday this month (March 12, 19, and 26) and at 10:30 p.m. each Thursday (March 6, 13, 20 and 27).

Part two of the series looks at the Williams Visual Arts Building as a community arts resource and the role of Lafayette’s artist-professors. It features Jim Toia, director of the building’s Grossman Gallery and Community Based Teaching Program; Lew Minter, director of the media laboratory; and Kim Thomas and Nicole Maynard, visiting part-time instructors of art.

Produced for the second anniversary of “Valley Arts,” part one of the series, which focused on the relationship between art and architecture, ran each Wednesday in February. The show included interviews with Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp ’36 Professor of Art and director of the Williams Visual Arts Building, and Toia, as well as a look at Lafayette student involvement.

The show also featured visiting artists, Phillipsburg High School art students and teacher Robert Jiorle, and architects Joe Biondo and Werner Buckl, who received the Silver Medal for their work on the building from the Pennsylvania chapter of The American Institute of Architects, the highest award given by the organization. The building was chosen from a pool of applications by 100 practicing architects in Pennsylvania, who submitted buildings from around the country. No more than one silver medal is awarded annually, although in many years, such as in 2001, no facilities are deemed deserving of the honor, according to Caroline E. Boyce, executive director of AIA Pennsylvania.

The Williams Visual Arts Building also has been honored with the Adaptive Reuse Award from the Easton Heritage Alliance, recognizing excellence in improving and reusing a city building.

The New York Times (Sunday, Jan. 19) calls Lafayette’s collaboration with Phillipsburg High School, in which nine Phillipsburg art students take art classes at the Williams Visual Arts Building, one of the more successful programs in New Jersey’s push to make senior year more productive, stimulating, and challenging by allowing high school students to “step into the real world” of internships, work, or college courses.

The Christian Science Monitor (Friday, Jan. 17) also features the art program prominently in a piece on the art world’s shift toward greater collaboration.

The Phillipsburg students are interacting with professional artists, photographers, and an architect this semester to expand their knowledge of contemporary art. The class is held from 2-3 p.m. each Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

“You can’t imagine what this program does for our kids,” says Jiorle. “Students have the opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art building and are certainly enriched by the teaching. They are learning what it is like to carry out a project from beginning to end. It has been of tremendous value. The students love the program, and I just can’t say enough about it.”

The 23,500-square-foot Williams Visual Arts Building is one of the leading high-tech facilities for art education and exhibitions in the nation. It includes sculpture and painting studios, a community-based teaching studio, Grossman Gallery, a flexible studio area with movable walls for honors and independent study students, seminar room, conference room, five faculty studios and offices, and a spacious lobby.

The building, which was dedicated in April 2001 in a day-long community celebration of the arts, is home to Lafayette’s studio art program. Located on North Third Street, at the main gateway to the campus, the building underscores Lafayette’s commitment to play a prominent role in the revitalization of downtown Easton. The facility offers local and regional artists and area school students more direct access to one of the College’s premier educational strengths.

Classes, workshops led by renowned artists, and open studio sessions are offered to local high school students and the public.

“Once in a while we all get lucky and catch a cultural institution taking an enormous leap forward and landing right. It’s a magical moment,” reported the Philadelphia Inquirer of the building’s dedication.

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