The (lack of) art on Marist’s campus

Marist’s Campus is widely regarded as well kept, as a beautifully manicured campus, as a campus with dedication to aesthetics.  Why then, is there such a noticeable lack of art on campus?  As any student or visitor will quickly notice, the walls of even the most pristine of Marist’s buildings are overwhelmingly bare.  And where there is art, such as inside the Cannavino library, there is often very little.

No case can be made against the beauty that is Marist’s campus. From the perfectly kept greens and litter free sidewalks to the castle like buildings and the picturesque view of the Hudson, the campus is unarguably beautiful.   So beautiful that new students often credit its aesthetics as a major attraction leading them to become a Red Fox. “After I took the tour and saw this campus, I knew Marist was for me,” a confession all too familiar to most Marist students. For a campus so determined to demonstrate its beauty, Marist has an underwhelming amount of art typical of college campuses.

One of the more recognizable statues sits right outside the library entrance. Everyone knows it, the two young students chatting with a Marist brother.  The “Way to Wisdom,” as the plaque explains, the statue commemorates the “arrival of the first Marist brothers on this campus and the purchasing of it in 1905.” Most students don’t know that this statue is hardly unique, and exact replicas can be found at other colleges in the United States.

art statue

“The Way to Wisdom,” statue outside Cannavino Library

More recently, several new images from Marist’s archives were blown up onto large print and hung on the walls within Lowell Thomas.  More frequently the walls remain bare, or are filled with flyers, announcements, and other like pieces.  The Cannavino library, where one might suspect to find hung paintings, only has two individual hung pieces.  One oil painting of Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne hangs on the third floor, tucked into the corner around the staircase.  The other piece is a three piece collection of unaccredited sculpture hanging on the wall of the second floor.  The rest of abundant wall space remains bare.  The inclusion of visible art within an area is thought to play an, “essential role in developing community.”  For any college campus it is important to develop a sense of community among  students, especially one that prides itself on its student community as Marist does. “I don’t get it, we [Marist art students] are always making new things, why not just put up some of the student work,” asks Nicole Voelkel, a junior here at Marist college.

Some of the only art on campus can be found in the Steel Plant's art gallery. Photo courtesy of

Some of the only art on campus can be found tucked away in the Steel Plant’s art gallery. Photo courtesy of

Why not use up some of the unused space around campus?  Aside from the the art within and around the library, Lowell Thomas’ tapestries, and the black pillars outside Donnelly, there isn’t much to see.  “I would love to see more art on campus,” says the Art Department’s chair, Professor Matt Frieburghaus.  “Sculpture can help introduce character.”

While Marist’s campus is developing all around us, with projects like the new Science and Allied Health Building, the North Campus Housing Project, and other recent renovations, artistically there hasn’t been much development.  “Whats here, art wise, for the most part, has been here,” said professor Frieburghaus, who has been with Marist for ten years.  “I’d love to see more art, but we [the department] can’t just go set things up.”  Ultimately the  administration decides what will go into or onto the campus.

There is probably good reason for the lack of development.  Marist is still young, and is developing quickly with huge building projects, so small projects like sculptures and paintings are likely to come as time passes.  Professor Frieburghaus demonstrated interest in  future initiatives to raise awareness of the Art Department amongst the student body.  These initiatives include student work around the campus, potentially putting some of the unused monitors and TV’s scattered around campus to good use.



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