Sept. 12, 2016Vol. 47, Issue 1

5 Can't-Miss Features of the Arts and Humanities Building

The new Arts and Humanities Building glows at night. (Jason Halley)

From glass-walled studios where one can watch art in the making to a trio of galleries and smart meeting rooms, the $58 million Arts and Humanities Building is a vibrant new destination on the CSU, Chico campus and an incubator for student creativity.

After more than three years of construction, the three-story, 90,000-square-foot ARTS building opened to students when classes began in August.

Along with faculty and department offices, the sleek, sun-drenched building includes configurable workspaces, labs, and galleries, along with a recital hall and an advanced recording studio. Learning spaces include two classrooms that can seat more than 100, three 44-seat classrooms that are available for all kinds of courses, and nearly a dozen specialized classrooms and dedicated workspaces for glassblowing, ceramics, English as a second language, foreign languages, and MFA studies.

A state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary facility, its identity is simple: “Creativity happens here.”

Staff and faculty expect the building to boost interest in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts while forging new cultural connections to the Chico community. Luckily, you don’t need to be enrolled in a class inside the building to take a tour. Here’s our take on five places to visit:

1—Art Galleries

The Jacki Headley University Art Gallery, the Janet Turner Print Museum, and the MFA Gallery sit side-by-side on the building’s ground floor. The trio share a common lobby, making the galleries and their exhibits a unified must-see.

The Headley gallery’s current exhibit is SHAKER, a work devised by Marek Walczak and Wes Heiss, the same duo that dreamed up the distinctive exterior installation Facewall. The  exhibit uses projected images and other visual and audible cues to peel back patrons’ thinking about a lowly nut-harvesting machine. The magic begins when visitors reach a certain spot inside the exhibition, unveiling the power of perspective.

Also check out the new home of The Turner, which has been housed on campus since 1981 in three locations, most recently near Meriam Library. Its first exhibition, Visual Metrics–Prints and Poetry, pairs poems written by students from the Department of English with a specific print each student felt best brought out the sentiment expressed by their poetry.

The MFA Gallery showcases art by Chico State Master of Fine Arts students. Interested in having one of your creations displayed? Contact art and art history department faculty member Cameron Crawford at for details.

Guests crowd the Jacki Headley University Art Gallery to look at an art exhibit. (Jessica Bartlett)

Guests crowd the Jacki Headley University Art Gallery to look at an art exhibit. (Jessica Bartlett)


After entering the building’s courtyard, stroll to the enormous first-floor windows for an up-close view of students bringing form to clay in the ceramics studio or shaping delicate creations in the glass-blowing workspace next door.  

Arrive late morning, and you might even see people setting freshly,made pottery to dry in the sun. Consider taking a rest on the bench that encircles the courtyard’s oak tree and drinking in the artsy ambiance. The three young cherry trees outside the art studios are in homage to John Bidwell, who founded the city of Chico and granted his cherry orchard as land to establish the University. Adding to the already-leafy campus, the trees are expected to burst into bloom in March.

3—Observation and Collaboration Spaces

Enter the lounges on the second and third floors, just off the elevators, and prepare for an unbeatable view as you peer down onto the courtyard through expansive, floor-to-ceiling windows. Tables, laptop desks, and padded furniture create comfy places to work, snack, or get organized.

Just a few steps away from the second-floor lounge you’ll find the Collaboration Space, a flowing, 1,941-square-foot room divided by a partial wall. Each side is equipped with an 80-inch monitor, enabling users to showcase whatever’s on their laptop or tablet right on the giant screen—a perfect setup for visualizing and refining team projects.

Thanks to moveable furniture and smart tech features, the area is a flexible and functional meet-up spot for small to mid-sized groups. The larger area even contains a laptop charging bar so individuals can juice up their electronic devices. Remember to bring a charging cable.

Groups can reserve the Collaboration Space by calling 530-898-5351.

For even more dramatic views, head to the second-floor Critique Space, an airy, 1,070-square-foot room with a wall of windows and a soaring ceiling. It’s designed as a place for students and faculty to put their artwork on display. As a bonus, patrons have an unimpeded view into the Critique Space from the third-floor lounge. Let’s see if that inspires some massively proportioned art pieces.

Students sit in the lounges in the new Arts and Humanities Building. (Jason Halley)

Students sit in the lounges in the new Arts and Humanities Building. (Jason Halley)

4—Recital Hall

With its sweeping wood entry foyer at the front of the new building, the 196-seat Paul and Yasuko Zingg Recital Hall is a design showpiece as well as the place for performances.

An expanse of golden Douglas fir wood panels runs wall to wall inside the recital hall for enhanced acoustics.  Soak up the sound on September 25, when Chico Performances kicks off its new opera film series with La Boheme. That’s followed by the free Pull-String Duo: Faculty Recital on October 9, featuring the debut of Professor David Dvorin’s new work, Dust Bowl Mix. Keep up to date on coming attractions at

5—Public Art

Two permanent and two rotating exhibits make the outside of the building as compelling as its interior.

Three glass cases on the building’s west side contain 72 pairs of boxing gloves made from a material that isn’t obvious at first, so look closely. Three Sets of Distinct Objects was created by Michael Bishop, a longtime professor in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. For a different view, catch the exhibit after dark, when it’s illuminated.

Around the corner, on West Second Street, there’s Facewall, a stainless steel sculpture that’s integrated into the building’s façade. The 987 faces in silhouette include Chico State students, professors, and community members. Visit to learn whose faces are whose.

At the campus’ eastern entrance on West First Street, Endless Columns is the first exhibit to decorate the sculpture niche, with two striking compositions made from junked glass and aluminum lighting fixtures by Department of Art and Art History Chair Robert Herhusky, along with several students.

Next to that, you’ll find Academe, the second iteration of a Chico landmark. Created by John Pugh as a student project in 1981, the 30-foot-by-25-foot mural was demolished when Taylor Hall was torn down to make way for the new building but reinstalled as an acrylic-on-vinyl creation by Pugh in 2015.

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