Cornell is like a friendly, quaint, small neighborhood in the sense that sometimes, all it takes is a knock on the door and a smile to get to know someone or something new. This is exactly what happened last Saturday, when I made my way downstairs in Willard Straight Hall and decided to enter Slope Studio for the first time.
Slope Studio is a new addition to the Cornell community that gives students a space to create art and learn new skills. Located in the basement of Willard Straight Hall, off of a narrow hallway, it feels like an island. It is closed off from the busy hustling of the outside world and tucked away in its own colorful, cozy corner. When I stepped inside of the space with a friend of mine, I was greeted by some kind artists and a student/teacher pair working on a colored pencil drawing. My friend and I were immediately welcomed to use any of the materials or spaces provided, with the only requirement being that we signed our names onto a sheet. We were then shown the the Slope Studio closet, which was stacked high with a wide array of materials, including easels, canvas, acrylics, sketchbooks, cameras, watercolors, and pastels. After looking around, we decided to grab a sketchbook and join the duo we saw at the table to for some colored pencil drawing.
Seated on tall chairs at the wooden drawing table, my friend and I spent about an hour and half drawing. It was a peaceful, freeing experience. I got the impression that if we wanted advice from the teacher or artists there, we were welcome to ask questions. But, if we just wanted to draw alone or enjoy a private creative space, we were also welcome to do so. I felt completely comfortable, and that can be credited to both the space and the people there. It was also refreshing to be able to use high quality art materials in any form or way that we wished. The sink behind us held a cup filled with soaking brushes and a white palette with colorful, watery paint still flowing through its crevices. This tempted me to touch upon some painting, as well, but I knew that I could not stay there all day, no matter how much I wanted to.
I left the studio with a drawing of a flower, and my friend left with a drawing of various facial parts. We both agreed to return to the studio in the future, and felt very grateful for the members of the Cornell community that made this space possible. In the next few weeks, I’ll be attending some of the classes that the studio offers. I’ve already got my eye set upon a hand knitting class offered next week! It’s opportunities like these that make me feel like “Any Person, Any Study” extends far beyond its literal meaning, beyond the classroom, and beyond bureaucratic borders at Cornell. For that, I am also very thankful.