Renovated gallery hosts faculty member installation

Southern Illinois University



Renovated gallery hosts faculty member installation

September 25, 2013, Seth Richardson

Quigley Hall’s architecture gallery is housing its first art installation since being renovated during the summer.

The installation, “Running Rampant,” will be on public display in Quigley Hall Room 119 today until Oct. 5. The show features abstract woodworking pieces from Stewart Wessel, a professor of architecture and interior design, and serves as the first faculty member art installation in the gallery’s history.

Walter Wendler, director of the School of Architecture, said he wants the gallery to host such shows once a semester to give students an opportunity to see faculty members’ work.

“Stewart Wessel is as much an artist as he is an architect and carpenter,” he said. “It’s gratifying to have the faculty put their intellectual work before the students because the students don’t get to see this much.”

Wessel’s oldest work in the installation dates back to 1994 with his most recent being completed just three weeks ago. Gathering his work into an installation brought his artwork into perspective, he said.

“You do a number of pieces and you have to take a point and see what they look like as a group and individually,” Wessel said. “They exist in your mind for so long, and then we work at them closely. Then after you’re finished, sometimes you don’t take time to stop and see what you’ve done.”

Wessel’s carpentry work began at age 5, when he started working with his father. He said his formal training is in furniture design, which he incorporates into his artwork.

“I still think of this stuff as furniture,” he said. “It’s not functional furniture, but it’s got the scale of furniture and most of these pieces have four legs or a stand or cabinetry. It’s carpentry, and I’m proud of that.”

The gallery is a multipurpose place for architecture students to study class material and present their work to their peers and the public. Summer renovations modernized the space with a sleek look and new technology, but it has been active the past two years as a spot for students to congregate.

Peter Smith, associate professor of architecture and gallery curator, said it serves as the public forum for the School of Architecture.

“It really becomes the heart of the program,” Smith said. “There are presentations, there are exhibits (and) just a range of activities. Kids can come in and study. It’s going to be the location where we hope to have everybody gather.”

Wendler said the gallery is like a centerpiece for the university’s architecture students.

“The gallery is right here at the front door of our program,” he said. “This is the place where students show their work. We’re proud of it and it gives students an opportunity to share what they do with people coming in and out of the building.”

There is an informal opening reception for “Running Rampant” and the architecture gallery from 5 to 6 p.m. today, when the public may view the artwork and meet Wessel. The Southern Illinois Culinary Club RSO plans to cater the event.