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Painting of a tree

Painting of a tree

Signs of Progress

Kelly Detweiler is tapping the Benson art collection to liven up campus construction with alumni art.

Kelly Detweiler is tapping the Benson art collection to liven up campus construction with alumni art.

It’s been three years since Briar Wren ’15 graduated from SCU, but her skillful wordplay and deft brushwork are making her alma mater a little bit nicer of a place this quarter.

Wren is one of five alumni artists who currently have their artwork on display on the chainlink fences surrounding construction at Edwin A. Heafey Law Library. Her piece, an oil painting of a blue Troglodytidae appropriately titled Wren, is perched on the fence between Heafey and the Benson Center.

A blue wren perched on a branch

“All of the pieces are selected from the collection at the Benson Center that Matt Cameron and I have been putting together for over 20 years,” professor Kelly Detweiler says (Watch interview here). “They all feature alumni art majors whose paintings were chosen to be in the collection.”

The collection was purchased and compiled using a small portion of the Benson Center budget saved precisely for building a strong collection of student art. When fences started springing up around campus, Detweiler felt it was a good opportunity to offer respite from one of the unfortunate side effects of progress—construction.

“Art enriches our lives and opens conversations among people,” Detweiler says. “It is a visual journal of what it means to be human and it ties into the Jesuit mission of educating the whole person.”

Here’s the lineup currently on display:

Oil on canvas
Ben Chiaramonte ’00

The Eternity of Opposites
Oil on canvas
Jennifer Harding ’99

Oil on canvas
Briar Wren ’15

The Bees (pictured)
Acrylic and encaustic on canvas
Kristen Rieke ’11

Acrylic on canvas
Kara Chase ’06

There were many pieces worthy of highlighting for this project, Detweiler says, but these were selected in part because they’d translate well to the required scale. Detweiler also felt they were representative of the hard work art students have put in over the years.

A painting of a honeycomb with bees on top


“These works feature the emphasis that we put on the figure and on figurative art in our department, which the entire department sees as a foundation that all of our students should have,” Detweiler says. “I think it’s wonderful to have these works out in public and have the general student body see these things.”

Detweiler plans to keep the project going during construction and hopes to add more. He’s currently compiling work from current students to post on the fences as well.


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