Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center
Faculty Profile placeholder for image of text
The Dead Zone
Environmental artist Liz Ward creates paintings showing oxygen-depleted areas in bodies of water
Trinity University's Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center began to take shape in the mid-1950s and early 1960s thanks to a generous series of gifts from Trustee Vernon F. Taylor. The first building was a music center in 1955, followed by an art building in 1961, and finally the theater was added in 1964. All three facilities were named for his wife, Ruth. Although the facilities provided a campus home for hundreds of young musicians, artists, and actors, after nearly half a century, time had taken its toll and the need for expanded and updated facilities became apparent.
A gift from the late Arthur Stieren, a Trinity Trustee and his wife Jane, in 1998 funded extensive renovation of the Ruth Taylor Theater building, which included the addition of the Jane and Arthur Stieren Theater. In 2002 the University undertook an approximately $20 million makeover of the Ruth Taylor music and art /art history buildings. San Antonio-based Kell Munoz Architects designed the new facility, utilizing the buildings' original lift-slab technique to help minimize costs. To keep the look and feel of the campus, they specified traditional Trinity red brick but added dramatic aluminum composite panels and gave the building a three-story structure creating a transition between the older low-slung campus buildings and the much larger, recently completed administration and academic building, Northrup Hall.
The current Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center consists of the three recently renovated buildings, the Jim and Janet Dicke Art Building, the Campbell and Eloise Smith Music Building, and the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall, and the existing Stieren Theater, the intimate Attic and Cafe theaters, and a courtyard. These buildings collectively have hosted theater productions, music and dance recitals as well as art exhibitions and viewings. The Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center houses the departments of music, art and art history, and human communication and theatre.
The Jim and Janet Dicke Art Building occupies the three-story north wing. The first floor art studios open onto a work patio that is used for processes best performed outdoors. The Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery on the south end of the first floor displays recent student and faculty work. The second floor houses digital and traditional "wet" photography studios and the digital imaging lab. Located on the third floor are numerous art studios, including the printmaking and a paper arts studio. A series of saw-tooth clerestory windows allow natural light to flood the third floor painting and drawing studios. A glass wall separates the studios from an east-facing balcony that is shaded by mature oak trees. The balcony is also used as outdoor workspace for the art studios.
Located in the west wing is the Campbell and Eloise Smith Music Building. The Dicke family wanted to share the honor by naming the music building in memory of their lifelong friends and Trinity's late organist and professor of music. The Smith Music Building houses more faculty offices, classrooms, practice studios, and a student lounge. The offices and practice studios feature isolated floors, special wall construction, and carefully engineered mechanical systems designed to minimize sound transmission and prevent extraneous noise from entering the rooms. The practice studios also feature glass paneled doors to prevent a feeling of isolation while inside. The piano lab contains 15 electronic pianos and is used to teach the beginning piano class that interests many Trinity students.
The Ruth Taylor Recital Hall is located at the east end of the lobby. The 320-seat concert hall has staged Trinity's nine ensembles and various trios, quartets, and special ensembles, as well as visiting performers. The expanded back of the house includes dressing rooms, instrument storage space, and a freight elevator. Stage expansion nearly doubled the size of the performance area, and new light and sound equipment brings the facility's technologies up to date. The Recital Hall is the site of student and faculty performances and serves as a venue for other community events.
The human communication and theatre department comprises the large west wing of the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center. Facilities include the Stieren, Attic, and Cafe theaters. The Stieren Theater seats 500 people, including balcony seating, and features a professional sound system as well as computerized, moving lights, which allow students to train with equipment they will be using in the field. The 120-foot long stage hosts at least 4 main stage productions each school year. The Attic and Cafe Theaters are the smaller, more intimate theaters in the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts center, seating around 60 to 70 people each. These theaters are used as acting classrooms as well as sites for student-directed and produced projects and showcases.
The Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center allow students to explore theater productions, music and dance recitals as well as art exhibitions and viewings.