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ISU Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts prepares for $52 million project

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NORMAL (WEEK) -- Administrators of the Wonsook College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University have been planning for a huge renovation project for years and now they have $52.3 million to get it done.

Last month Governor J.B. Pritzker released the state funds for the university to begin working on structural, electrical and flooding issues.

"[Right now] we are updating our plans, talking with our students and seeing what they really want in their learning and teaching spaces today as opposed to what they were originally planned 10 years ago," Wonsook College of Fine Arts Dean Jean Miller said.

Miller said the project is not just about updating the look of their buildings as they plan to create spaces for the students enrolled in their 12,000 majors to become the artists they are studying to become.

"A lot of the students have projects that are rather SPONTANEOUS because they are working through their process in their process in their art and it doesn't matter which kind of fine arts," she said.

"It could be theater, it could be visual arts but they need to have the kind of spaces where they're interacting with the space and they're changing the space."

As of right now, the plan is to create dance studios, facilities for the college's growing video game design program and their glass blowing major, among other things.

Current students are ready to see their college get a facelift even if they will not be on campus by the time that everything is done.

"In the world today the, unfortunately, arts aren't appreciated as much but it's been changing and I'm really excited to see that change and respect," Graphic Design Senior Hannah Piemonte said.

"We live in such a changing world that we need to keep updating those changes and adapting to them knowing that students are going to have these resources that are going to help them succeed in this changing world is really exciting for me."

The project--that is funded by the Rebuild Illinois gas tax--will be broken down into two phases with the first expected to last just over a year and a half and the second about 12 months.

ISU has yet to say when they plan to begin construction.

Stephanie Rodriguez

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