For just over 40 years, Sarratt Art Studios has been inviting art teachers, local artists and businesses to bring their work to the annual Holiday Arts Festival as a way to both expose students to the Nashville arts scene and offer unique, handmade gifts at a college-friendly price. The festival, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Dec. 7, features a variety of jewelry, crocheted accessories, glass-blown ornaments, pottery works, food items and beauty products with prices starting as low as $5.

The festival, along with many other events and classes that Sarratt Art Studios offers, have become some of Vanderbilt’s best kept secrets, according to Sarratt Art Studios Director David Heustess. Throughout the year, Sarratt Art Studios hosts the back-to-school poster fair, gives students the opportunity to take art classes in a non-academic setting and supports the Vanderbilt Dance Program.

Some of the funds raised from the Holiday Arts Festival are reinvested in the studio arts program to provide for supplies in art classes, support special events, replace old equipment and buy specialized supplies so new classes can be created to keep up with artistic trends. Heustess said the Sarratt Art Studios program provides an essential outlet for those who are passionate about their art, and have either chosen not to pursue it academically or simply want to learn more.

“It’s nice that we have the academic side for those who want to study art and get those credits and earn that degree in art. We totally love that, but this is a different route, so to speak,” Heustess said. “I’ve had students graduate here in political science, or HOD or biomedical-nuclear-physical something that I don’t know what they’re doing, and the next thing I know they’re going back to school to become an art education major, or they’re opening their own pottery studio because they combined the academic side and our program.”

The Studio Arts Program was created to attract students of all artistic skill levels and foster a creative learning environment without the pressure of exams and grades. Classes cover many different mediums, including mixed-media painting, infused glass, beginning pottery, wheel throwing classes, photography, book arts and tapestry. Regardless of past experience, Heustess encourages all interested students to sign up for a class; registration is currently open and will remain open throughout the first few weeks of the spring semester.

“I think here on campus, performing arts things and visual arts things are really important to students, and they have the opportunity to create those groups themselves,” Heustess said. “We’re just trying to support in some way with some training or technical advice or even just a trained eye advice, even just some support for all that. Dancers need dance classes, no matter how good they are. A professional dancer takes dance class everyday. Visual artists need to learn those new skills and explore those new mediums, and especially here you can’t keep a pottery wheel in your dorm room, you’ve got to come to clay class.”

If you want to ‘come to clay class’ and enroll in non-credit art classes for the spring semester, click here.

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