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Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Students and dignitaries participate in a ribbon splashing Thursday during the grand opening of the Art Institute of Salt Lake City. More than 150 students are enrolled in two- and four-year degree programs.

DRAPER — With a splash of blue, a sprinkle of yellow and a smattering of red, the Art Institute of Salt Lake City became official Thursday.

During a grand opening ceremony, school administrators, city and county officials and students alike splashed paint on one of the newly constructed walls at the art design and culinary institute in Draper, "signifying its unique and creative approach to educating the arts," said Mark Toth, spokesman for the Art Institute's parent company, Education Management LLC.

"It's a little different than a traditional ribbon-cutting, but we're a little different," he said.

Many students attending the ceremony said they had plans of going to other states to attend various Art Institutes because of the school's notoriety, but "I was happy to stay closer to home now that it's here," said graphic design student Sydnie Madison, of Pleasant Grove.

"This place is different, it's not the traditional type of school," she said. "I've never heard of anyone else throwing paint on their walls. So yeah, it's pretty cool."

The school began admitting students in August and now has more than 150 enrolled in two- and four-year degree programs in various art and design mediums, as well as cooking and culinary masterpiece.

"My professors here have jobs in what they teach," said Tanner Capua, who is also studying graphic design at the Art Institute. "I was studying art at another school but with the way they were teaching, I didn't think I would get anywhere."

Art Institute President Darren Adamson said programs in digital photography, video and animation will soon be added to the curriculum.

"Even though we're new, our eyes are set on growing," he said. "At the Art Institute of Salt Lake, the administration, faculty and staff are all here to educate and encourage students to reach their highest potential."

As part of the school's ongoing commitment to serving the community, Adamson presented a $2,000 donation to Artworks for Kids, which aims to provide arts education to all children in the state of Utah. The Art Institute will partner with them to "create a continuum for students from kindergarten to the workplace," spokeswoman Lisa Davis said.

With more than 40 locations nationwide and a collective student body of more than 61,000, the Art Institute touts premier arts education that Palmer DePaulis, director of Utah's Department of Community and Culture, said is "historic for Utah." He commended the institute's first students for "blazing the trail for your course of study."

The school, which is operating out of a rented facility adorned with IKEA-inspired decor, hopes to house more than 2,000 students in Utah by the year 2018, with 500-plus employees and a significant community connection, said Charles Restivo, vice president of the Art Institutes group.

"We provide higher education that never goes out of style," he said.

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