You don’t have to walk very far on the campuses of the College of Saint Benedict or Saint John’s University to see the visual arts on display. Today, thanks to film, the schools have become the first higher education institutions in the country to offer access to a resource that offers interdisciplinary learning about how art, business and law intersect.
For the 2022 calendar year, CSB and SJU professors and students have access to Art Vérité SARLa multimedia production company with a library of eight films – and many more on the way – that transcend the arts in business, international partnerships, government agencies, foundations, nonprofits, communities and the law.
“As an instructor, Art Vérité is a fantastic career resource for students interested in majoring or minoring in studio art at CSB and SJU,” said Steven Lemke ’08, Environmental Artist in Residence at Saint John’s University and associate director of The Saint John’s Pottery, who used the library in the three design courses he taught in the spring semester. “The films introduce students to the wide variety of career opportunities and professional issues related to the work of creating a life in the arts. Fortune 500 companies regularly seek to hire people with advanced skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, brainstorming, and visual and cultural literacy. That’s exactly what an art degree does.
Art Vérité was founded by Jane CH Jacob, who previously worked at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Worcester Art Museum and the Terra Museum of American Art, and taught at New York University. For more than 20 years, she has run a consulting firm, Jacob Fine Art, Inc. Among her patrons are Gene and Sheelah Windfeldt, long-time supporters of Saint Ben’s. In 2013, Jacob helped the Windfeldts donate a three-ton, six-foot marble sculpture, “Breaking Free IV” by Martin Varo, for display at the Clemens Library.
“I approached them with the idea of being able to sponsor an inaugural year of the Art Vérité license to take a test drive at school,” Jacob said. “When you lay a new curriculum in professors’ laps, they can plan their year or set up a curriculum, but this library is meant to enhance what instructors are already giving their students.”
CSB and SJU precede prestigious institutions
Films can be used in courses, seminars or as extracurricular options. In the wake of CSB and SJU, Art Vérité has developed agreements with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University. Jacob is establishing similar ties with Duke University and the University of Notre Dame. Other art collectors, not unlike the Windfeldts, have expressed interest in making the library available to Harvard University, the California Institute of the Arts, and the University of Chicago.
Films available for CSB and SJU feature artists’ stories to share with students – whether their future is in art, entrepreneurship or law. Art Vérité is preparing to publish three more, including one on the forgery of a painting and another on the preservation of a mural, threatened by a $30 million development under the Rights of Persons Act. visual artists.
“It’s a library that’s continually building,” Jacob said. “We are in various stages of production on another 20 films. It’s in progress. There is no end to the amazing art stories.
Lemke is well aware. In 2017, he traveled to Documenta 14, one of the most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions in the world – held once every five years – in Germany and Greece. Among the exhibits was a sculpture by Dan Peterman, a Minnesota native who is a world-renowned environmental installation artist and associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Peterman’s work included a vintage bullion table, inviting commentary on how metals can and should be repurposed around the world.
Peterman became the subject of one of Art Vérité’s films after the bullion table was damaged while returning to the United States. Her story was included in the film “Thinking Through Art Loans” that Lemke screened for her class in April.
“There are a lot of movies I could show in class,” said Lemke, a magna cum laude graduated from Saint John’s. “It’s more about the quality of this particular film. It touches on environmentalism, economics, globalism, logistics, the professionalization of being an artist, and the qualifications of someone working on the gallery side. I think that really resonates, especially in the spirit of our new onboarding program. »
An art teacher connects the film to his own experience
Lemke knows what it’s like to sit in the chairs his students occupy today. Ten years ago he had the privilege of helping Fr. David Paul Lange creating the statue of Saint Benedict, which stands near the Great Hall on the SJU campus.
In 2019, Lemke earned her MFA from Notre Dame – which only accepts one sculptor into its program each year. Later that year, he became the first Notre Dame student to earn an American Fulbright Fellowship in sculpture, examining the relationship between folk architecture, modernist housing, and identity in former Czechoslovakia.
“As a first-generation alumnus of the CSB and SJU art program, I know first-hand that our majors and minors develop the tools and techniques to not only obtain exciting job opportunities in their field after graduation, but also real success throughout their careers,” said Lemke, who has worked in arts program management, foundation relations, exhibition design and national tours, and even professional grant writing. “I received many competitive grants to support my own artistic practice and, of course, now I work and teach here on campus. I attribute all of this directly to my training as an art major at CSB and SJU, and to the work of the faculty in the art department in particular.
Jacob hopes people like Lemke see enough value in Art Vérité for CSB and SJU to continue their relationship, whether through continued funding from patrons, grants, activity fees, or library.
“Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s will always be first,” said Jacob. “These films are not reserved for artists established in museums. They are aimed at all artists.