On Refining A Factory: The computer was born in a barn.
Norwalk Community College Soundings. Fall, 1981
By Trish Cleary
Some cynics claim NCC went “high tech” before it was architecturally fashionable. In that case, its yellow brick facade, prominent loading dock and exposed power units are a testament to industrial chic.
Others believe that any learning environment should stimulate students not only intellectually, but aesthetically as well.
Birthplace of the first business computer, Remington Rand Research Center, 333 Wilson Avenue, Norwalk, CT
When Ann Chernow came to NCC as a part-time art lecturer in 1975, she wasn’t impressed with the bricks, tiles, rivets and plasterboard that met her gaze everywhere. She set out to modify the environment of the one-time factory complex.
Students were involved in every aspect of Ann Chernow’s efforts. She became adviser to the Art Club and gave instructions on how to purchase art. With funds from the student vovernment, club members began to visit artists’ studios and select original works for purchase.
“Artists love it when students visit their studios,” commented Ms. Chernow. “They’re interested in them because they remember what it’s like to be a student – with little money but lots of enthusiasm.”
The growth of NCC’s art collection has been slow but steady. Each semester acquisitions enlarge the collection, which now numbers over 115 works.
Several of those are donated pieces that have been at the college since its early days. The first graduating class, for instance, gave as a class gift, a portrait of President Baker which hangs in the president’s office.
Student-purchased art, however, is destined for hallways, stairwells, reception areas, student lounge – anywhere students congregate or pass.
Antonio Fasconi’s biographical woodcut is displayed near the elevator on the second floor, while Gabor Peterdi’s prints hang in the second floor hallway.
Takeshi Kawashima was especially generous to students visiting his New York City studio. He gave them a large pastel acrylic that now hangs in the admissions office, and several prints, one of which greets visitors in the reception area.
Paul Camacho’s vibrant red, yellow and blue Lone Star hangs outside the social sciences offices on the fourth floor and the flat realism print in the fourth floor stairwell is “Will Barnett’s “PLAY.”
The most recent aquisitions include a Marjorie McKinnikinnick series of seven buildings created for the Public Arts Project. They provide a visual focus for a fourth floor hallway, while Ben Johnson’s glowing chalk portrait of a mother and child hangs in the counseling office.
“Artist are probably the most generous people in the world,” reflected Ann Chernow. “They like to help students learn and they contribute what they can.”