Student Union Art Addition: Obstruction, Reflection, Transition


Photographs courtesy of Office of Campus Relations

The Student Union here on campus has become a prominent vessel for social gatherings, academic and extracurricular activities, food, information, and general relaxation. This year a team of students, faculty, and staff have brightened the contemporary building with relatively new art additions: one set of sculptures out on the lawn and one quilt work above the fireplace on the lower level. 

The finances for said artwork can be traced back to the John N. Chester Estate Fund, which was given in the hopes that each University of Illinois campus will enhance its beauty for inhabitants and visitors. 

The outdoor architectural piece by Lisa Williamson, named “Obstruction, Reflection, Transition,” stacks reflective stainless steel and vivid colors onto tall rectangular arches. Landscaping modifications – such as buffalo grass and slender walkways – have been added nearby as an enhancement. Any modifications to the setting of the piece are done so onlookers feel welcome to interact with it. 

Sanford Biggers’ textile artwork “A Convenient Fiction” calls upon the contrast between a contemporary medium and vintage cloth, unearthing a tale about history. The location of this quilt allows for viewers to relax by the fireplace and think about this piece as they do so. 

When asked about the thought behind these particular art selections, Student Union Executive Director Ann Comerford noted that they were chosen because of their uniqueness in substantial meaning and widespread appeal to those who pass by. As with any of the art installations on campus, she hopes that they will inspire students to think about the possible significance, both to the artist and to themselves. Comerford added: 

“Art is a part of the mission of a student union and a university. Exposure to ideas and learning is not only a classroom endeavor, but it is a campus wide initiative. Art, music, lectures, theater, debate and entertainment are all ways to challenge the campus community to engage with new ideas and learning.” 

Even though these pieces are prominently featured, they are not the only artworks currently and prospectively featured in the area. Comerford commented that the Student Union and the UIS Art Department are working in conjunction with each other to put student-made work on display. In the past, these selections have been based off of a common theme and positioned in popular areas on the lower level to be viewed by passers-by.  

In the future, students will have access to a flowering program in the Student Union that will open up discussion on the artworks and any accompanying information. No details on the date, time, and specific location of the program have been revealed at this time. 

For more information on art or other features of the Student Union, call (217)-206-8611 or email at [email protected]