Dordt College News

Ribbens Academic Complex

August 12, 2009

Classroom building overhaul benefits three main areas

1. Art and Design

The new art facility features over 10,000 sq. ft. of centralized, spacious studios, extra storage capacity, additional equipment, and an emphasis on a safe environment with special venting and specific work areas. All studio, display, and storage areas are new, with custom cabinetry and seven vented stations to capture and control dust and chemicals.   Polished masonry floors in all the studios are easy to maintain, and exceptional lighting options, including large sky lights in the painting and ceramic sculpture rooms illuminate work and display areas.  A large gallery lounge space, a floor to ceiling glass case, studio hallways and a gallery next to the art offices allows the department to rotate and feature exceptional art works by past and present students in a wide range of media.

The Douglas and Henrietta (Miedema) Ribbens Academic Complex  honors two long-time early employees of Dordt College. Together Douglas Ribbens and Henrietta Miedema served for seventy-one years, he as Vice president for Academic Affairs, Registrar, and Director of the Library and she as the college’s first administrative assistant. The Ribbens were honored at a dedication and an open house for the new building during Parents’ Weekend.The thing I appreciate the most are the new features of proper ventilation systems, dust collection, fume hoods and clean air systems that result in a very safe and healthy environment for everyone working in the art studios and photography darkroom. The photography darkroom is complete with proper venting and a silver recovery system. Added to that are the efficient and effectively designed lighting systems and generous wall displays for student artwork.

     Professor David Versluis

2. Education

Three model classrooms (language arts, math, social studies) and two labs (science and computer) replicate many of the rooms where our students will be teaching.  These classrooms also contain moveable furniture, allowing for multiple configurations for teaching and learning.

Each classroom has state-of-the-art technology including interactive whiteboards, document cameras, advanced lighting options, and presentation equipment.

A teacher workroom is furnished with state-of-the-art technology, equipment, and supplies needed for pre-service teachers and professors to enhance the education process at Dordt as well as the PK-12 schools in which our students work and learn.

Based on research that valuable learning occurs outside the four walls and time restrictions of the traditional classroom, several areas have been created to allow students to collaborate and learn together in informal learning areas.  One of these areas has been named the Bosma Lounge after Education Professor, Cella Bosma, who passed away last year after a long battle with cancer. Immediately after  the furniture arrived in the lounge, students started using it to study, read, and visit.

It’s a real blessing to have a science classroom to model how to teach science and to do the sorts of activities we’re discussing in class, instead of just describing them.  We’re able to do many more hands-on activities in class.  The embedded technology—projectors, sound system, SMARTboard, document camera, etc.—helps open students to how different their future classrooms might be compared to the ones they experienced in elementary or middle school.

     Adjunct Professor David Mulder

I’m thankful for:
1) having the education faculty in one central area. This has made our department grow closer together in many ways.
2) the Bosma Lounge where we sit down with students for a moment to talk about classes, things they are involved in, and life.
3) tech-ready classrooms that make the five minutes before class enjoyable moments to visit with students instead of gathering, hooking up, and testing the technologies needed for class.

     Professor Timothy Van Soelen

3. Digital Media Lab and Classrooms

The new addition includes a 1600 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility for training in graphic design and film/video production lab. One of the only labs of its kind in the region, it includes

Space is also available for classroom discussion away from the computer monitors, and the room has been designed for expansion and upgrading by making additional cable and power available at each station for new types of optics or systems that are yet to be developed.

Apocalypse Then graces the entrance

What began as a mass of clay has emerged as Dordt’s latest art installation, mounted in the entry to the newly remodeled art department.

Apocalypse Then is the result of two semesters’ worth of hard work by advanced ceramics and sculpture students Dan Slager, Steve Oswald, Nic Padilla, David Lammers, and Naomi De Boer.

The work of art was originally the brainchild of art professor Jake Van Wyk, who said he “had a vision of the concept ten years ago of columns going up and spreading into wings.”  When the advanced ceramics class began brainstorming ideas for the project, Van Wyk’s original idea took on another form.

“We started looking over Revelations 16, which was filled Senior pottery students have left a lasting mark on the new art department entrance with their Apocalypse Then clay sculpture.with a lot of contrasting images,” said Van Wyk. 

Building on Van Wyk’s vision of two columns, Apocalypse Then depicts an evil side, with a seven-headed dragon jutting out from the left of the art department entrance; and an angelic side, with a horse and rider mounted on the opposite wall.

“It took 100 percent of the two semesters,” said Naomi De Boer, who noted that the project took far more than the original estimate of 1,000 hours. Students worked well beyond the usual one and a half hour, two-day-a-week scheduled class period.  They did much of the work over breaks and at night.

“We spent a lot of Saturday mornings—and afternoons too,” said Steve Oswald.  The students kept oatmeal and a microwave nearby and even ordered in pizza a few times. They also risked their safety for the sake of the project by making face and arm molds of plaster for the piece.

“There were warnings on the plaster label that we should not encapsulate any part of the body,” said De Boer laughingly. “But we used Vaseline as a releasing agent, so it was okay.”

Because the art building was under construction when the project was in full swing, the class had to improvise.

“There was no space to do a huge project like this in the trailer (a portable classroom brought in while the art department was renovated last year),” said Van Wyk.  “So, we commandeered a space above the maintenance building so we could have room to work.”

That meant all the slabs of clay and equipment had to be lugged up and down the maintenance stairs.  Despite all the inconveniences, the class found that few problems arose.

After all the individual pieces had been constructed, dried, and glazed, Padilla and De Boer worked on glazing the entire work during the last three weeks of the summer. 

Installation was difficult due to the fragility of the work, but Apocalypse Then finally came together the weekend before classes started in August.  All artists helped install the piece.

“It has exceeded my expectations,” said Van Wyk of the final product.  “We included a lot of detail, which in the end really made the piece special.”

De Boer was also pleased with how Apocalypse Then turned out too.

“You can see everybody in that piece,” said De Boer, adding, “There is no way that any of us could have done it alone. Everyone’s best skills played off everyone else’s, which made it really good.”


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