Art exhibit brings character to building’s walls

Marissa Weeman

Hours of painting and planning culminated in “Fire and Memory,” an art exhibit that showcased the works of an Institute for Learning in Retirement member Thursday night.

Mur Louisa Quaglia, 57, is coordinator of an art class at the Institute, a non-credit program in the School of Continuing Studies. She has been creating art for the past 25 years and put on the reception to introduce her artwork to the Evanston and Northwestern community.

“It’s really nice because there’s this positive interaction between this community outside of Northwestern and this Northwestern community,” said Quaglia, who put most of the event together herself.

The exhibit was the first of its kind for the Illinois Technology Enterprise Corp., 1801 Maple Ave., a university-operated research center.

It attracted about 60 residents of the Chicago area during the course of the night.

“This is such a special occasion for us,” said Mary Kelly, a secretary who helped organize the event.

The Institute for Learning in Retirement program consists of a number of peer-led discussion groups for area residents. The Institute uses the ITEC building for some of its classes

Kelly said she met Quaglia when the artist came to a class in the building. After casually discussing the emptiness of the building’s walls, they came up with the idea to have artwork shown there. Many of the pieces have been on display in the building’s corridors and conference rooms since late summer.

“It really enhances this building, as most research buildings or university buildings are kind of on the dull side — there’s no spark in them,” Kelly said. “Her work is just so beautiful it just brings out the best in the whole building.”

The display included about 40 of Quaglia’s monotypes and abstract paintings from the past 15 years, some of which are more than 5 feet tall.

Chicago resident Linda Morbee attended the event for a high school art class with hopes of obtaining ideas for her own future work.

“I’m interested in all different kinds of art and I wanted to see if anything would influence me,” said Morbee, 16.

Ellen McCammon of Wilmette, a friend of Quaglia’s, also viewed the exhibit.

“I’ve never seen her work and always wanted to,” said McCamMonday, 48. “I’m not that knowledgeable about art so I don’t know what else to say about it except that it’s beautiful.”

Quaglia said she hopes viewers walk away from her exhibit somewhat mystified by her paintings.

“They’re not intended to be understood right away,” she said. “I want active participation and I want it to be done over time.”

Most of the artwork was available for purchase and ranged in price from $300 to $13,000. Quaglia sold a number of works at the exhibit.

Quaglia’s work has previously been on exhibit in cities such as Houston and Philadelphia. Quaglia said her work will probably remain on loan to ITEC until sometime in December.