Published October 06, 2016

New art space

Wallace Hall foyer now home to works by students and alumni
Art has a new home at Monmouth College – the lobby of iconic Wallace Hall.

More than two dozen pieces of artwork are now on display in the lobby of the College’s main building, which was built in 1908 and named in honor of the College’s first president, David Wallace.

The artwork includes pieces from Monmouth’s permanent collection, as well as works by alumni and students.

The idea to turn the Wallace Hall lobby into a space to showcase art was the idea of First Lady Lobie Stone. Stone came up with the idea shortly after she and President Dr. Clarence R. Wyatt arrived at Monmouth in 2014.

“From the first day I walked into Wallace Hall I had a vision of transforming the first-floor lobby area, one of the true front doors of our beautiful campus, into a space that showcases our talented art students and faculty, past and present,” Stone said. “I felt this would also make the space brighter, happier and even more welcoming.”

Stone approached art professor Stacy Lotz about the possibility of displaying art in Wallace Hall’s main foyer. Lotz said she liked the idea because it was a way to brighten an area that is “the gateway” to the College. The Wallace Hall lobby is a frequent stop on campus tours taken by prospective students, alumni and other campus guests, not to mention being a high-traffic area for Monmouth students, faculty and staff.

“Lobie said this is a beautiful building, and it could be even more beautiful and more inviting,” Lotz said. “It’s received a total facelift. We’ve really done some major changes in there, and I think there are more changes coming along that will enhance that space even more.”

Stone said it required a true team effort to turn her vision into reality.

“The College’s lead painter, Dana Poole, and a great crew of summer student workers prepared and painted the walls a wonderful ivory color to set off the artwork,” she said.

Stone said that the College’s “talented carpenters, Bo Scott and Joe Shreck, were critical in helping us devise and install a system that makes changing out the art relatively simple.” Art professor Brian Baugh also played a part in the selection process, and Monmouth art alumna Susan Twomey ’76 helped Stone and Lotz curate and hang the exhibit.

“We had a great response, and we look forward to having more become available, as this is not a static show,” Stone said.

The one permanent new piece in Wallace Hall lobby is a four-foot reproduction of the College seal, which hangs on the center of the main wall.

“One of the most beautiful details on our campus is the artistic rendering of the College seal in Dahl Chapel, which was done by a former Monmouth College student. It’s always been an inspiration to me,” Stone said. “Placing a modern version of the seal in the Wallace Hall lobby, alongside the artwork, is a tribute to the College’s great tradition and the vibrancy of our visual arts program.”

Lotz said that the transformation of the Wallace Hall lobby into an art gallery is a great expression of the College’s values.

“It shows that we appreciate that many of our alumni continue in the arts,” Lotz said. “Those of us who are professionals in the arts know how important it is to make art, to share it in public spaces. Sometimes galleries aren’t as inviting as public spaces like the Wallace Hall foyer. That’s why this is so exciting. We get to touch a lot of people who may not find their way to our gallery.”

The Wallace Hall lobby has always been a popular gathering place for students to relax between classes. Since art was added to the space, Lotz said she often sees students looking at the artwork and interacting even more.

“That’s a really great thing to see – the students engaged with the artwork,” she said.

To accommodate the art, the portraits of the College’s first 13 presidents, which hung in Wallace Hall during recent years, were moved next door to the Morgan Room of Poling Hall, where they now make up the Hall of Presidents.

“It seemed to me that the Monmouth College presidential portraits were not being shown in the best light in Wallace Hall,” Stone said. “When I asked Jeff Rankin, our college historian, about it, he told me that they had been many places on campus, but he had long had a vision for displaying them in the Morgan Room in Poling Hall ¬– which is where they now hang in all their majesty.”
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