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Archive of Art: An Inventory of Works Across Campus

By Emily Cordonnier

Do you know the large red chair sculpture by Marycrest? What about the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial? Or the floral mosaic of Mary between the Immaculate Conception Chapel and St. Mary’s Hall? Every day, we pass by artwork on campus and don’t see the inspiration or the artist behind it. In the past few months, I have realized how much artwork we have throughout the University of Dayton campus — over 1,000 works and growing! 

The University Archives and Special Collections has been given the task of locating and describing all of the University-owned art on campus. As an art inventory student assistant, I have explored buildings that I would otherwise never have set foot in. Seeing all of the artwork the University has is a  wonderful opportunity, especially for an art and design major like myself. I have been in at least 25 buildings on campus so far (to be honest, I didn’t even know there were that many). I have also met some of the University’s amazing staff members. 

The Marian Library has an extensive collection of artwork that can be lent to departments. The Marian Library already has a database and tag numbers for its art. What I have been hunting for this summer is public artwork purchased by or given to the University. This includes pieces purchased with University funds; pieces a faculty or staff member has given to the University upon retirement; and works donated to the University. Once this inventory is complete, any new pieces donated or purchased will have to go through an accessioning process, and any works taken out of the collection for whatever reason — usually age or condition — will have to be deaccessioned. 

The result of the project will be a better understanding of how much art the University owns, where it is, and the history of each piece. This will clear up the common response, “I’m not sure where it came from; it was here when I got here.” 

When departments or people change locations, works of art can get shuffled around, and their origin and destination become a mystery. Donors and artists wonder where their artwork is, and it is our responsibility to know so they can visit and enjoy it too. 

It is a major task, but it is beneficial to the viewers, the University, and the artists to have the history about the University’s works from around the world. People with questions about works they encounter on campus can call the archives at 937-229-4256 for information.

Emily's top picks

Here are some of my favorite artists and works that are right here on Dayton’s campus: 

Brother Mel Meyer, S.M.: Brother Mel Meyer was a Marianist Brother from Missouri who earned his undergraduate degree in secondary education from UD in 1951. By the time he died on Oct. 12, 2013, he had created more than 8,600 works — paintings, sculptures, homemade paper, and stained glass. His works are often large, brightly colored and abstract. Many of the brightly colored metal outdoor sculptures on campus are his creations. Some of my favorites are colorful framed cast-paper works, about 5 feet wide, on display on the first floor of Curran Place. 

AIR (Artist-In-Residence) program: From 2006 to 2013, the University commissioned student artists to create artwork for campus. The students lived and worked at ArtStreet, where they could get hands-on learning and real-world experience. Many of the AIR works are in residence halls and lounge areas. The label with each work contains an artist statement so the viewer understands the artist’s intentions.

Sean Wilkinson: Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Service Professor Sean Wilkinson began teaching photography at UD in 1973 and was the chair of the visual arts department from 1992 to 1999. His work has been featured in museums and exhibits across the United States. He photographed Imprints and Impressions: Milestones in Human Progress, a popular exhibit of selections from the Stuart and Mimi Rose Rare Book Collection in 2014, and prints of the photos hang on the third floor of the Humanities Building and in Roesch Library. The prints include photos of British and American first editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and the 1969 Salvador Dalí illustrations of Alice and Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Current UD art and design faculty: Misty Thomas-Trout (design) and Geno Luketic (ceramics) reinvented the design of the first-floor in St. Mary’s Hall with their immersive work “A Place of Passage: Graphic Design and the Transformation of Space into Experience.”  The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, along the walkway east of Albert Emanuel Hall, was done by Roger Crum (history), John Clarke (design), and Brother Gary Marcinowski, S.M. (sculpture). Julie Jones’ photography can be found in the Marianist Hall lobby. Sculpture by Kyle Phelps and his brother Kelly Phelps is in Gosiger Hall, Keller Hall and the Learning Teaching Center. Textile works by Suki Kwon can be found on the first floor of Alumni Hall; Kwon also collaborated with R. Darden Bradshaw (art education) on liturgical banners in the Immaculate Conception Chapel. Timothy Wilbers’ photography is on the second floor of the Humanities Building. 

— Emily Cordonnier is a junior art and design major from Covington, Ohio.  She specializes in digital design. Working in the archives has given her inspiration to blend her artistic ambitions with history.

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