$1 million trustee gift of fine art installed

The fine art additions throughout the Student Center include work by Temple professors and alumni.

Renee Handline, a junior secondary education major, studies under 1977 Tyler School of Art alumna Karen Freedman’s acrylic painting, “Qualia.” | JAMIE MULLEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Fine art worth $1 million is being installed throughout the Student Center.

In May 2016, university trustee Dennis Alter gifted the money for the acquisition and installation of fine art in the building. The university planned to spend an additional $500,000 for a curator, James Dicker, the former vice president of institutional advancement, told The Temple News in May 2016.

The artwork placements didn’t begin until August. The projected completion date and its official unveiling will be in early 2018, said Rebecca O’Leary, the art adviser and curator for the project.

Steven Baris, who received his MFA from the Tyler School of Art in 1985, Paula Cahill, a 2009 fine arts alumna and ceramics professor Roberto Lugo are among several professors and alumni with artwork on display.

Lugo is one of the featured artists. His work entitled “Hustle” is in the second floor stairwell near the Student Center Operations office. It depicts a panda on a graffiti style background, which he said is inspired by the collective struggle people from all disciplines feel to persevere and find success.

“[‘Hustle’] refers to where I come from,” said Lugo, who grew up in Philadelphia. “That’s really what everyone aspires to do, which is to work hard, and so that same thing can be adapted to just about any pursuit that one wants to take on, and in my case it’s art.”

The art installation project can have many more benefits for students beyond decorative appeal, Lugo added.

“Seeing things visually really speaks to us in a different way,” he said. “The visual arts provide for a whole different sect of society to be able to communicate their ideas and what’s important to them.”

“This is artwork that is going to activate and enliven the Student Center in common areas, and in unexpected areas,” O’Leary said.

The majority of Alter’s gift was used for the acquisition of artwork, while the remainder was used to purchase lighting to highlight the pieces. The walls will also be labeled to describe the significance of the artwork, O’Leary added.

“Trustee Alter is a huge supporter of modern art and wants students to experience that art while on campus,” said Jason Levy, senior director of Student Center Operations. “The hope is that students have an experience that is really positive by seeing this art that [Alter] is sharing with us as a gift to the Student Center.”

Some students, like second-year pharmacy student Krishna Patel and third-year pharmacy student Sutikshan Gupta, have already become accustomed to the new decor.

“I really like looking at art, and so for me to have the art pieces around the Student Center it makes me want to hang around campus more, and study rather than going right home,” Patel said.

“When I’m studying all day and have a busy schedule, looking at such great artwork inspires me to do more,” Gupta said. “It is also refreshing to have something bright and interesting there, which is better than looking at brick walls.”

The installation of art in the Student Center is occurring during a time of transformation for the building as a whole.

“[Alter] saw an opportunity where we were already opening the food court, and doing a bunch of other renovations to the building, and saw a great opportunity to continue to enhance the building with this gift,” Levy said.

In addition, Levy said students should be on the lookout for new furniture in the Student Center to accompany the artwork. A renovated lounge on the second floor will also debut in October, featuring additional art on display.

“I feel proud and excited to be a part of the Temple community,” Lugo said. “It’s incredible that they chose one of my works of art to display. I find [“Hustle”] especially fitting to be in an academic setting where really that’s what students need to do in order to really pursue the things that they are going to college for and the things they are passionate about.”

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