Park Forest, Schools

Art Inspires Governors State University Student Advocacy

Lanleff-Demure No. 4
Lanleff-Demure No. 4 – Photo taken in 2003 (Image Provided)
Contact: Keisha Cowen

A beautiful sculpture in disrepair has a new team of unlikely supporters to champion its cause: two first year students at Governors State University.

Students Marie Schelfo and Nathan Couwenhoben launched “Home is Where the Art Is”, a GoFundMe campaign supporting the restoration and relocation of artwork by French artist Henri Etienne-Martin.

Film student Peter Cummings helped the pair produce a short video featuring Lanleff-Demure No. 4, the bronze sculpture donated to the Nathan Manilow Park on the campus of Governors State by the Art Institute in 2003.

So far, Marie and Nathan have raised $625. And counting.

Beneath this story lurks another begging the question—how do two 18 years-olds develop enough appreciation for art, so much so that they would make a public appeal for it?

Living and Learning in the Midst of Art

Governors State University’s campus is an art habitat, the perfect confection of nature, art, and learning. Located in Chicago’s backyard, the tranquil campus is 750 acre of sprawling landscape. Peppered throughout is a collection of 29 master works of large-scale sculptures by major late-20th Century American sculptors, Chicago-based artists, and sculptors from France and Mexico.

It is home to deer, rabbits, and raccoons, Illinois Landscape Number 5, “The Martin,” 300 residential students—mostly undergraduates —and more than five thousand student commuters who escape the fast pace of our neighboring city and the monotony of its suburbs on a quest for knowledge, growth, and upward mobility.

In the midst of this mosaic of chaos and beauty is where GSU students learn to appreciate art. Wether through required courses or extracurricular activities, art is integral to the campus environment and academic experience at GSU. Research has proven its value in developing critical thinking and communication skills, as well as bias awareness and empathy.