Roger Boulay

A Q&A with Roger Boulay

The Laird Norton Center for Art & Design is one of three university-wide initiatives that are part of The Power of Experience – A Campaign for Winona State. Hear more about Laird Norton and how it will impact students from WSU Gallery and Art Collections Coordinator Roger Boulay.

Why is Laird Norton Center for Art & Design needed at WSU?

The Laird Norton Center for Art & Design will be a cutting-edge space for creativity and innovation. It will provide additional and upgraded, state-of-the-art technology and equipment, but it will provide space for that equipment to reside. In our current space, there are no dedicated spaces for any specific purpose – it’s a lot of swing space and dual-purpose rooms that are constantly overbooked. Winona State currently has tremendously talented faculty and students in the College of Liberal Arts, but no location to realize that talent. Laird Norton will fill that void.

What unique features are going to be included in Laird Norton and why are they important?

The two most unique spaces will be the gallery space and the Fab Lab. Laird Norton will quadruple our current gallery space and be the premiere exhibition space in southeastern Minnesota for contemporary art. It will allow us to showcase our wonderful collections as well as allowing students, faculty, community members and guest artists to showcase their work to the vibrant WSU and Winona communities. No other gallery space in the region will come close to the size and quality of these galleries.

Laird Norton will also house a Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratory) that will empower our students and community members to create professional-level prototypes and collaborate not only with local businesses, but with other Fab Labs around the world. It will allow people across disciplines to connect in new and meaningful ways which will spark true innovation.

How will Laird Norton impact students’ educational experience at WSU?

This is what experiential education is all about. As a space to create, showcase and gather as a community, Laird Norton will provide students with an educational experience unparalleled in the region. They’ll be working alongside real clients in real life settings to solve real problems.

How will Laird Norton impact their ability to get a job up graduation?

Through Laird Norton, WSU students will have exposure to art, business collaborations, design thinking, creative course work and opportunities in the community. They’ll have much more experience working with high level tech – 3D printers, CNC routers, the Fab Lab, etc. It’s access to this type of facility and these pieces of equipment that graduates from most other universities don’t have – that will give them an edge in whatever field they pursue after graduation.

What aspect of the project are current students most excited about?

When touring the space, students are excited by the chance to study in a building renovated for them and their programs. They’ll have their own individualized spaces for all of their work in and out of the classroom. In the current space, there are many times when students are forced to work in low-lit hallways just trying to finish their projects, because the labs are in use for classes. Laird Norton will provide dedicated space for all their needs, along with access to a 24-hour computer lab. Students are excited at the prospect of having all the tools they need to succeed at their fingertips and pursuing a 21stcentury education in one of the most historic buildings in Winona.

What will this mean for the future of the Art & Design program at WSU?

Laird Norton will demarcate the Art & Design program at WSU as a premiere program in the region. It will provide Art & Design faculty with the technology, resources and teaching spaces to train innovative, creative and critical thinkers and makers. Winona State students will be well-prepared to enter and adjust to the ever-changing American economic landscape.

How you can get involved


Donations of all sizes make an impact to this effort, with gifts of $1,000+ being recognized on a collective artistic installation planned for the new Laird Norton Center for Art & Design.


Read more about the project, watch video testimonials about the impact, and stay up-to-date on The Laird Norton Center for Art & Design campaign at

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Sarah Stockwell

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