Craig Hankin, director of the
Workshops, said the now 30-year-old program he oversees
remains faithful to its "bread-and-butter" courses:
painting, drawing, photography and sculpture. Yet, take a
glance at the program's course catalog, or stroll down the
halls of the Mattin Center, and it's evident that there is
more bread-and-butter to go around these days--and various
other morsels on the menu.
Hankin, now in his 18th year as director, said the
program turned a major corner three years ago, when it
moved into the 53,000-square-foot Mattin Center.
Previously, Homewood Art Workshops existed in the basement
of the now-demolished Merryman Hall, where there was
practically no natural light, only one classroom and a
modest five-course schedule that had three times as many
students waiting as there were seats available.
Since 2001, however, the program has nearly tripled.
The 2004 catalog contains 14 offerings, including newer
classes such as Basic Black and White Photography, the Art
of Architecture, Still Life/Interior/Landscape and Visual
Reality, a course in dream imagery and surrealism.
The program currently uses two large studios on the
second floor of the Mattin Center's east wing and next fall
will use an upgraded room on the building's first floor for
Since the program's last milestone birthday, Hankin
said, it's been all onwards and upwards.
"We are just trying to keep growing and doing what we
do even better," said Hankin, who was a junior at Hopkins
the year the program came into being. "This new building
has raised our profile tremendously. The fact an arts
center exists on campus has been a huge boon for us."
The program will kick off the celebration of its 30th
birthday today, when painter John Hull presents a slide
talk titled "American Narrative Visions." The talk will
take place at 5 p.m. in room 101 of the Jones Building,
The recipient of numerous grants and awards, Hull is
considered one of the country's foremost narrative artists,
capturing elements of American history, sports, literature
and other subjects. Hull, who taught painting at the
Homewood Art Workshops from 1985 to 1986, is currently a
professor of drawing and painting at the University of
Colorado at Denver.
Hankin said the anniversary year will feature at least
two other talks by visiting artists, both tentatively
scheduled for the fall.
Homewood Art Workshops was founded in 1974 by Eugene
Leake, former president of the Maryland Institute College
of Art. Leake approached then university President Steven
Muller about whether or not the school had ever had an
artist in residence. Muller construed Leake's question as
an offer and immediately took him up on it. The program's
first home was a small room on the first floor of Merryman
Hall, a modest space where on one afternoon each week a
model would come to pose for the gathered budding
Today, in its two studios, one that bears Leake's
name, all manner of artistic invention occurs. In addition
to traditional paintings and sketches, students create
three-dimensional sculptures using all manner of material,
including colored plastic tiles, down, matchsticks and the
dismembered limbs of toy dolls (all currently on display on
the Jones Building's first floor).
Hankin said the program still follows its original
mission, to provide an informal opportunity for Hopkins
students, regardless of experience, to learn the
fundamentals of drawing and painting and to learn to see
the world in a different way.
The program has seven faculty members and in November
presented its first faculty exhibition, which featured
drawings, paintings, photographs, cartoons, sculpture,
dioramas, digital imagery and text by Hankin, photography
coordinator Phyllis Berger and instructors Tom Chalkley,
Barbara Gruber, Larcia Premo, D.S. Bakker, Jay
VanRensselaer and Sherwin Mark.
Hankin said the program took a significant step
forward in January when it made Berger its first full-time
photography coordinator. "Phyllis has done amazing work
here," Hankin said. "She has built the photography
component of the Homewood Art Workshops out of nothing,
actually. She started when we were still in Merryman Hall,
teaching an intro photography class before we even had a
darkroom for students. We would shoot slide film and send
it out to be processed."
Photography classes presently rank among the program's
most popular offerings, Hankin said, "which I think is
fascinating, that in the age of digital photography there
is always a long list of kids who want to learn traditional
darkroom techniques," he said. "It's nice to know the
interest remains strong."
Appeal remains strong in all the classes, apparently.
The courses continue to have waiting lists, albeit not as
long due to the increased space and offerings.
Since 1980, the program has held an end-of-term
exhibition displaying the best works by its students. Each
year, Hankin said, he is amazed by the results.
"We see students who are tremendously talented and
motivated taking our classes. We've always had that, but we
are seeing more and more each year. I think the Admissions
Office has done a great job of attracting well-rounded
students here, many of whom have obviously taken art
classes in high school," he said. "I feel we have a higher
percentage of accomplished students now than we had in our
Merryman days. We see stuff that is tremendously creative
and different than we had in the past, partly because we
offer courses that we just didn't have room for in the old
As for its current location, Hankin said the program
is approaching the max-out point in terms of studio space.
He said presently there are no plans to increase the number
of course offerings, or to offer an arts minor.
He did leave open the possibility, however.
"Sure, the arts may become a minor here one day. I
would love to see it," he said. "You never know; it's
amazing how rapidly things can turn around. I do know we
have gotten off to a really great start. Our mission is to
teach people to draw, paint, sculpt and take photographs.
That is what kids want to learn and what we have found they
want over all these years. We have a strong foundation, and
we're going to build on it."