University of St. Francis Dedicates Van Buren Street Art Gallery

 

University of St. Francis President Michael Vinciguerra and numerous donors, friends, faculty members and students execute a ribbon-cutting at the university’s new art gallery at the Rialto City Center Campus.

University of St. Francis President Michael Vinciguerra and numerous donors, friends, faculty members and students execute a ribbon-cutting at the university’s new art gallery at the Rialto City Center Campus.

Nearly every guest that walked into the University of St. Francis Art Gallery ribbon cutting ceremony on April 15 walked in the door and headed straight for the corner.

They gravitated to the one thing in the room that was absolutely impossible to miss: a giant, smiling, neon-orange Buddha made from foam and plaster. The sculpture, created by USF senior Mike Moberg(Joliet), was made in a 3D design class in which students were instructed to take a small item and recreate it in huge proportion.

“It was also supposed to be a ‘shock’ piece,” explained Moberg. “I started with a piggy bank shaped like a Buddha and this is what I ended up with. I carved it from foam by hand. I think it’s happy and bright.”

Indeed it was, and guests seemed to enjoy it along with the multitude of other student paintings, sculptures and graphic design projects that were strategically displayed throughout the room.

Senior graphic design student Megan Quigley(Wilmington) was the artist who created the colorful senior thesis posters that identified students whose work was on display. “I’m excited I got to be a part of this before graduating,” she said. “It’s great to be able to bring our USF community downtown.”

The new show space has been made possible in part with a generous $100,000 donation from the Caesars Foundation. Caesars Entertainment is the parent company to Harrah’s Joliet Casino and Hotel. A $50,000 grant from the Will County Board also funded the project. The Will County Board’s financial support for the art gallery was made possible through the Laraway Road Host Fee Agreement that Will County has with Waste Management.

Said state senator and USF alumnus Pat McGuire, who was in attendance, “Imagination is necessary to create art. Imagination is also necessary to create a city center. Bravo to USF, Caesars and Harrah’s for their commitment to revitalizing downtown Joliet.”

USF President Michael J. Vinciguerra expressed a heartfelt thanks to donors for making the gallery space a reality.

Darren VanDover, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Harrah’s Joliet, responded, “We take this very seriously. A lot of our employees received their education at USF and we are honored to support this project.”

Will County Board member and former chairperson Jim Moustis reflected on the many board discussions that have been had about making the downtown more attractive and vibrant to visitors. “Art is what comes to mind for me. People come to see art. There are many young aspiring artists at USF and hopefully there will be many others.”

Vinciguerra concluded the event with a ribbon cutting. He was helped along by a large group of donors, friends, faculty members and students.

As USF art students lingered afterward to admire their work on the walls of the new space, Moberg, who hopes to start his own graphic design company after he graduates, shared, “I just think it’s great that students will have a really professional space to highlight their work. It’s a great thing for both the school and the community.”

The USF Senior Thesis Exhibit will open to the public on Friday, April 26 at the gallery, 25 E. Van Buren St., Joliet.

The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing, health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit www.stfrancis.edu.