Informed by Mary Mardel, RSCJ, the work is the new centerpiece of the Flood Mansion's front entrance, representing the past and future of Convent & Stuart Hall, as well as Sacred Heart education around the world.
Evoking Convent & Stuart Hall's past and its place among Sacred Heart schools around the globe today, the school unveiled a major art installation titled Welcome Home on April 23 inside the front entrance of the Flood Mansion.
The sculptural painting, which is 10 feet wide and five feet tall and hangs behind the reception desk, is the culmination of seven months of collaboration between artist Caleb Duarte and Mary Mardel, RSCJ, facilitated by the school's Art and Theology departments, the Alumni Office and the President's Office.
In the bicentennial year of Sacred Heart education in America, and around the time of Sr. Mardel's 100th birthday, President Ann Marie Krejcarek commissioned Mr. Duarte to create a visual representation specific to the school. In early October, he met with Sr. Mardel at the Oakwood Retirement Center in Atherton where she lives, to hear her vision for the project.
"Anything that we have has to have the heart in some way," Sr. Mardel said during the meeting. "I don't necessarily mean the shape, but the sense of heart, because that's what we are — meaning love."
Mr. Duarte, whose installations have appeared in museums and public spaces around the world, is known for his distinctive use of materials, often working with themes that have a social or political bent. "Art for me is about deconstructing our sense of reality," he says. "The element of faith, or the belief in the goodness of humanity, is at its core."
Get to know Mr. Duarte and find out how he incorporated Sr. Mardel's vision into the project.
In addition to creating an artistic focal point for the main entrance of the Broadway Campus, the project provided an opportunity for International Baccalaureate high school art students to offer feedback and make suggestions for Mr. Duarte to consider.
"It was a great opportunity for students to see the complexity of an art commission for a distinct community and also for them to observe the role of the artist to ultimately lead with their talent and aesthetic," says Art Department Chair Rachel McIntire, who has collaborated with Mr. Duarte previously and recommended him for this project.
One of many early sketches that Mr. Duarte shared with IB students to get their feedback.
Welcome Home celebrates the school's history and its internationality by infusing artwork and cultural tapestries shared by the Religious of the Sacred Heart and our sister schools from Korea, India, Wales, England, Mexico, Chile and Uganda, a factor that was especially important to Sr. Mardel.
"I hope it moves people," says Mr. Duarte, adding, "I hope people can contemplate with the object, and it's going to be a part of people's daily lives." Speaking after the installation was complete, Rachel commented, "I was both relieved at how perfect the fit was and impressed and moved by the images and how they interact with the space."