The natural wonders of the North Carolina mountains, like the arts themselves, evoke
powerful feelings and uplift the human spirit. And it is here in the mountains that
a vision of the fine and performing arts as a central force in the cultural, social,
educational, and economic life of an entire region takes place.
Western Carolina University's Bardo Arts Center is the focal point where all of the
disciplines of the arts come together to inspire, to engage and to excite audiences
and artists alike with the highest caliber of performances and programming.
Along with the traditional academic activities of our students and faculty, the Bardo
Arts Center offers opportunities for participation by artists, musicians, theater
groups, creative writers, folk artists and craft persons from near and far. Our mountain
setting has attracted artists and artisans for decades, and we reach out to collaborate
with the established, thriving arts communities in Asheville and Charlotte, N.C.;
Atlanta; Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala. and beyond.
BAC enhances appreciation of the Appalachian region's rich and diverse cultural history
- woven from the experiences of Native Americans, Scotch-Irish, African-Americans
and a growing Hispanic community. We reach out to surrounding communities of a mountain
region that while traditionally underserved but is alive with artistic dreams as vital
and vibrant as those found anywhere.
The Bardo Arts Center was designed by Gund Partnership
, an award-winning professional practice located in Cambridge, Mass., that provides
services in architecture, planning and interior design. Founded in 1971, Gund Partnership
has been honored with more than 100 national and regional awards for design excellence
and has received wide critical acclaim and professional recognition for its work.
The design for the 122,000-square-foot facility was a result of Gund Partnership's
bold interpretation of the grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains. Partnership staff
visited the Joyce Kilmer National Forest and were inspired by the spiritual and cultural
home of the Cherokee. The architect's profound experience of Western North Carolina's
regional history, diverse mountain culture and vernacular local architecture led to
Gund's BAC design.
Situated in the lush and temperate Cullowhee Valley, the site of several early Cherokee
settlements, the Bardo Arts Center features numerous Cherokee-inspired design elements.
In the main atrium, the tile floor design of a seven-pointed star represents the seven
Cherokee clans. Bilingual signage throughout the facility uses English and the Cherokee
syllabary, developed in 1809 by Sequoyah to give his people their first written language.
The elegant 1,000-seat performance hall, with its fine-tuned acoustics and state-of-the-art
lighting system, is designed to provide WCU students, faculty and staff, Jackson County
residents and surrounding neighbors with a series of performing arts events by regional,
national and international guest artists.
The Fine Art Museum
The Fine Art Museum
includes nearly 10,000 feet of exhibit space, featuring a growing permanent collection,
an exciting schedule of contemporary art and fine craft, and related interdisciplinary
education programs. The galleries focus on contemporary art while strengthening the
university's role as a catalyst for collaboration, celebration and preservation of
the artistic legacy of the region in order to develop a new focus on collecting, interpreting
and showcasing cross-cultural innovation in contemporary art.
With a full spectrum of wide-ranging forms of expression in the visual arts, the galleries
serve the campus, the community and the region as a teaching resource with scholarly
research, interactive art education, curriculum support, enrichment, and lifelong
learning for children and adults of all ages and backgrounds.
The fine arts academic wing
includes state-of-the-art teaching and learning laboratories along with lecture,
critique and studio spaces for undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including
WCU's master of fine arts program.
Education and Enrichment
Developed and administered by the School of Art and Design
, the comprehensive academic degree curriculum in the visual arts includes painting
and drawing, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking and book arts, photography, art history,
art education, graphic design, and experimental work in new media and digital technologies.
A season of prominent guest artists-in-residence, an outdoor sculpture program and
campuswide innovative art events enhance the academic experience and serve as opportunities
to involve artists and audiences throughout the surrounding region.
As a focal point for interdisciplinary activities in the arts and humanities, the Bardo
Arts Center embraces an inclusive vision for artistic diversity. BAC nurtures the
highest standards of academic excellence among faculty and students and encourages
critical thinking. It reaches out to bring the arts of the world to the region and
the arts of the region to the world.
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