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Winn center provides new home and opportunities for students

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Blueprints of the under construction Winn Center show the new facilities the photography department will call home fall 2013

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Tucked away in the corner of the Business and Social Science Building at Cosumnes River College, the photography room is hidden in a recessed wall along a row of offices.

Walking inside can be a jarring experience, since most classes on campus look like they serve a single purpose.

However, in the nearly windowless room in the old brick building, you’ll notice rows of chairs, tables lined with computers, backdrops and electrical outlets hanging from the ceiling, as well as other equally isolated rooms off to the side.

That’s not to mention the darkroom itself, as well as another room filled with printers.

Students say it can be difficult getting used to not having a desk to write on, and each day they hope to remember to bring a thicker notebook or a clipboard to write on.

“That photo lab now, it’s like you walk in there and you’re in a cave,” photo professor Patty Felkner said. “It’s just dark and gloomy. You can literally go in and come out and it’s dark or the weather’s changed and you won’t even know.”

Felkner described even feeling sick to her stomach, as there are no windows for the smells of chemical toners to escape through.

However, starting next semester, students can expect a completely revamped experience, as the Winn Center for Construction and Architecture is set to open.

Photography is getting a reworked set of rooms to fit the need of the ever-expanding department.

Jim West, a photography professor, said that an overcrowding problem in the department was identified years ago. What is now the primary classroom for students in various courses, was once just a studio.

“Since the school has been so busy, what happened is that we had to go into the studio as a classroom space because there was no other classroom space for us on campus,” West said.

The Winn Center will give the photography department dedicated rooms for a digital lab, a studio, a dry finishing room and a dark room. The studio will have room for six different shooting bays, West said. He also said the dark room will be able to be taken out and replaced, depending on the direction photography turns.

“We have to really think about our classes and reorganize them because they’ve been in one place for so long and we’re so used to multitasking and using things in a multipurpose function,” said photo instructor Kathryn Mayo. “So it’s going to be nice to have spaces where they’re dedicated to one particular thing.”

RJ Simpson is a 21-year-old photo major currently enrolled in beginning digital photography on Fridays, which is taught in a computer lab in the Learning Resource Center.

“It’s great to know that the photo department will have specific spaces for different things like a studio, darkroom,” Simpson said. “It’s fine how it’s all meshed together [in the BS building] but it would also be nice to have individual spaces for different types.”

A classroom will be next to the digital lab and will be used for a lot of the lecture portions of photography classes, West said. He added that the instructors would like to keep as many courses in the the Winn Center as possible, but they may have to offer classes outside of the building if there are any overlapping class times.

West described the classroom as an “electronic classroom.” He said that students will be able to plug their laptops in at their tables and will have access to wireless internet. Images will also be able to be projected onto the walls, West said.

West said he wants his classes to be active, with an auditory element.

“You’ll notice I put music on right at the beginning of the class,” West said. “The reason that I do that is that I don’t want to come into a quiet space. Students want to come into a highly-active space. And so what I do is I try to bring the energy so that if I bring the energy up and we’ll do something special in this space.”

All three instructors were excited for the same reason: windows. West said the windows will give opportunities for shooting photos with natural light.

“It’s going to give us so many more opportunities to be able to change the way we teach, and I think improve on our teaching, I hope,” Mayo said. “I have a lot of high hopes.”

The photography teachers’ offices will also be moved into the Winn Center.

“In my office right now, I have been in a closet. For the last twenty years I’ve been having a closet as an office, so again, no window,” Felkner said. “Now all of a sudden I’m going to have a window, and it’s going to connect me to the outside world. And our offices are a lot closer together, so I think there’s going to be a lot more collaboration between the instructors.”

West said he felt that the photography department has the feel of a community to it, a sentiment echoed among the instructors.

“To me, it seems that teaching a photography class in these rooms, there’s something different about it,” Mayo said. “And I hope that that stays when we go over there … it’s not that [we] want to remain separate, but we have something that’s really great where our students connect with each other.”

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Stephan Starnes, Former Staff

For seven semesters Stephan served on the staff of The Connection in various capacities, holding almost every title possible during that time. Everything...

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