Hege-Cox is a very unique building on Guilford’s campus. Where else can you find walls full of handprints, free-range squirrels, graffiti, and aggressively written signs demanding clean surfaces? Not King, that’s for damn sure.
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I was recently told about a theory called the Broken Windows Theory, which basically assumes “if a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares.” Sure, there are holes in our walls that go unpatched and air vents that are layered in years of dust, but the condition of the building, with all its weird quirks, doesn’t diminish its value to our Guilford artists. I asked around to students, recent alumni, and art professors what they love the most about Hege-Cox, and I found that they all hold a fondness for different little details that make up our unique place to create.
Jeremiah Long (’16) said, “The green and purple hands on the middle door from when me and a friend stayed up all night finishing Roy’s final.”
Nara Seymour said, “The oddly placed string on the welding pad. There is this sort of a mysterious feeling as though if you pull it something will happen, but nothing does. Sometimes when Mark is talking he just kinda hangs/ leans from it. People are always pulling it and I always think somethings going to happen.”
Moriah Shapiro (’15) said her “favorite part is the little pieces of art that get left behind and live on the walls of the building. It is a mecca for annoymous works to wonder about.”
Patrick Nachlas said, “The window of the elevator area at the ground floor by the sculpture pad. Last year I found 12 dead yellow birds with my mom just outside the window. They were eating the fermenting berries in the holly tree, getting drunk and then flying into the window there. My mom suggested I put aluminum foil on the window, since I did that 6 months ago I haven’t found any more dead birds.”
Alejo Salcedo (’15) said, “I’ve always loved how at the beginning of the spring squirrels inhabit the building. How they make the perimeter lights their passageways from room to room. One time I saw a couple babies behind the cabinet in the drawing room.”
Mark Dixon (Sculpture Professor) said, “One night around 1995 a number of us were hard at work in the sculpture studio. The over-powered 70’s stereo was shaking the building and all were in the flow of productivity, but there was a problem. One student‘s work with a sander was charring material and making smoke. After two visits from public safety to shut off the alarm he knew what he had to do… The next day there was deep trouble for tampering with a smoke detector. The trash bag was torn down but little shreds of evidence remained. This perfectly preserved crime scene always reminds me of great times as a student. They also date the paint job on the room’s ceiling to greater than 21 years. I have used those staples to help make the case about the maintenance gap between Hege-Cox and other academic buildings on campus. By the way, thanks to a senior team that values the arts those staples’ days may be numbered. Initial discussion has been opened about the possibility of a major upgrade to our beloved Hege-Cox!”
Taylor Brown said, “So I suppose for me the one thing I like about the art building would be the balcony itself. For me it feels like my own little hide away when I don’t feel like going back to Shore and I can just sit up there and not have anyone know I’m there unless I call out their name. However as soon as other art students put the sofa up there last semester, that made it even more special (even if it is a bit weird).”
Nico Narvaez Soza said, “My favorite place is probably a popular one. It’s the balcony on the second floor of the art building. I like to sit there to do art, homework, talk with friends, or just have a peaceful time. it’s a cool place to work and enjoy the people, the weather, the squirrels, the birds, and inhale some smoke from somebody else’s cigaret.”
Natalie Bodian also mentioned the porch, saying “There have been so many nights where I have sat out there doing homework or chatting and making new friends. I have had some of the best conversations and gotten to know amazing people on that porch. When I have pulled all nighters I sleep on the couch or watch the sun come up, its amazing!” She also brought up the painting in the bathroom of the print studio, saying, “I always look at it when I am in the bathroom (cus its across from the toilet) but it has this happy carefree and childish energy to it, and it reminds me not to take my work so seriously!”
Raina Märtens (’15) said, “There’s a little room under the stairwell out back. You can access it through a small rectangular wooden door. While installing a piece in there for 3D design as a freshman I decided that I would be an art major. ( I think there’s a picture on Hand Eye posted of the installation! From 2011)”
Maia Dery’s (Photography Professor) favorite thing is actually the hinge on the door previously mentioned by Raina. She said, “I see this scene on my many trips up and down from the Photo Lab to the main floor of Hege Cox. Over the last 15 years of making that trip, I’ve traveled those stairs at many paces ranging from seemingly weightless bounding to careful, mindful creeping. For me, velocity is often a function of feeling. No matter how blazingly fast (in my own mind, on my best days, I’m still Olympian fast!) or slowly I go, the evolution of that hinge always reminds me that, even if we are far from perfect and shiny, we can still do our most important work well. In the case of that hinge, its disintegration is making it so more beautiful, interesting, and instructive with the passage of time.”
Grace VanFleet said, “I really love old wooden floors, so the floors in the printmaking studio are delightful.”
Chris Austin (’16) said, “The notes that collect in the photo room and the smell of the darkroom, i really miss the smell of chemistry and caffenol, when your eyes havent adjusted and the only stimuli is smell and touch, but when it comes down to it the professors are the best thing about the program, they could teach anywhere and it is them that make the program as great as it is. There isn’t a day I don’t think of them particularly when I’m making art.”
Veronica Coffie said, “I think that my favorite spot changes everytime I take a new art class. But this semester I like the small poster in the” faculty ” bathroom that says “you are enough “. Sometimes it can be stressful in the art department and in life in general-but whenever I go there it makes me feel better!!”
Martin Brown said, “I really enjoy the skeleton in the closet in the drawing room. We actually have 2 skeletons here in the art department, but one of them is a replica. The other can be found in a black box in the corner, and it is quite real. The only information about its origin came from Roy Nydorf, who ordered the skeleton 20 years ago and knows only that it is the bones of a woman of probably Southeast Asian/Indian origin. ”
Kelly Taylor (’16) said, “My very favorite thing is probably the light that streams into the print studio on a sunny day! Actually, it’s the professors who occupy the building that is the best part! What would Hege-Cox be without Roy’s voice booming across the second floor, without the comfy chair in Roy’s office to sit on and vent and get advice from him, without Maia’s inspirational energy and a visit from Kathryn occasionally to see what everyone’s doing and give positive feedback. …yea, it’s ‘home’.” Kelly also added that her “next favorite would be the signs in the print studio from printers past who have already graduated and gone on but their words are still there to admonish us in an effort to keep the print studio clean and keep Roy sane.”
Seth Premo said, “There is a door in the sculpture room that goes into the woodshop near the bathroom that is hidden behind cabinets. It is very mysterious to me and I always imagine it leads to a place I’ve never been before. I see it and forget about it every time and then when I rediscover it I am always captivated by its mystery.”
Lily Rain’s (’16) favorite thing is the little devil spray painted on the floor of the second floor balcony. She explained, “He’s jumping and has a spear in his hand. That makes me feel pretty joyful and devious, like what artists are supposed to be doing- being mischevious and happy like little children.”
Colin Nollet’s favorite thing is the foam butt that Roy would bring out occasionally as a figure drawing reference.
Ben Stinson (’16) said, “One day when I was working on the pad, after some long hours wielding, I took a tea break and just kinda walked around the art building. At some point wondering, I found myself behind the bushes to the right of the photo lab. While back there, I came across a little square metal door on the side of the building. Bewildered, I open the door. When Alice opened her door, she went on a grand adventure through wonderland, so with hope of an adventure I pushed forward to see what laid beyond that little metal door. It creeked open, sounding off like fingernails across a chalkboard, as what any rusted metal hinge would sound when it’s been years since last opened. No adventure was behind that door; but what I did find was equally awesome. Well, maybe not as awesome as a wonderland plot but cool in it’s own right. Behind the door were stacks and stacks of old College newspapers, from different colleges dated some 20 to 40 years old. I only told and showed a few people of my findings and they too were just as surprised as I was to my discovery. The few I asked about the door were baffled as to what it was used for and why it was filled with old newspapers. I even went to the Library archives to look at the blueprints from when the building was first built and the prints of the renovation of the art building but found no little doors in the blueprints. In which dumbfounded me even more. I closed the door leaving the papers there in hopes that one day another wondering student will find the little metal door that leads to not an adventure but a forgotten history.”
Natalia Petkov’s (’16) favorite thing is actually from the thesis house, Hildebrandt (Hege-Cox’s sister building). She said, “There is a little bench in the wooded area behind the house that is so low to the ground that it feels like you are sitting in a bed of ivy. It was my favorite place to write, think and process. Also there was a baby fox that lived back there and liked to keep me company occasionally.”
Lastly, my favorite thing is the water (or smoke?) stain above the door in the print room. I find myself looking at it when I’m at the inking station, because I think it looks like a Madonna and Child silhouette. It’s like one of those things where, if it were on a piece of toast, we’d be selling it on Ebay.
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Searching for all the places people wrote to me about was like a big scavenger hunt. I went through three people before finally finding someone who knew where the devil graffiti was (thanks Antoine!). I love that so many people had something to say about Hege-Cox, which just further proves that we embrace the building’s imperfections and find meaning in the chaos.