Millikin art students pay tribute to professor's brother
Students in Professor Lyle Salmi's Painting course at Millikin University study various concepts and techniques that are used in painting. The course emphasizes the development of skills and knowledge necessary to form a personal approach to expression through the medium of painting.
"The painting class at this undergrad level is all about figuring out how to work with paint," said Michael Holmberg, a sophomore art therapy major from Decatur, Ill. "As a class, we are always bouncing ideas off of each other and giving feedback which helps to grow as an artist."
Earlier in the spring semester, the students planned to create individual portraits of Professor Salmi as their final project for the course. However, that changed after Salmi's brother, Loren, passed away unexpectedly in February.
Before Loren passed away, Professor Salmi took a photo of his brother. That photo, found on Facebook, was used by the students for inspiration to create a group painting.
"We came up with the idea where everyone does an individual piece of the portrait," said Holmberg. "Because everyone has a piece in it, it's finished whenever the group is done. It's an honest and genuine project."
The class secretly worked on the painting until April 20, when they decided to share it with Professor Salmi.
"We divided the image into a grid and passed out sections of the photo to everyone in the class," said Sydney Doherty, a senior graphic design/computer art major from Lake Saint Louis, Mo. "It was incredible to see all the sections line up and to see all of our interpretations in one piece. We knew it was an emotional piece and that it would mean a lot to him."
The painting is on display in the Perkinson Art Gallery in Kirkland Fine Arts Center until May 11.
"I was really touched by their thoughtfulness," said Salmi, associate professor of art and chair of the Art Department at Millikin. "I think what I was most touched by was that the students thought enough about the situation I was in, losing a close relative, and decided to do something about it to honor his life and to, in some ways, show their respect for me."
Salmi noted, "I think when you have something like this, it really symbolizes what makes Millikin, and the teaching and learning here, very different from other institutions."
Other students that worked on the portrait were Amy Stockwell, a first-year student from Decatur; Michelle Holsapple, a senior art therapy major from Oreana, Ill.; Danna Herbach, a senior art therapy major from Wheaton, Ill.; Lea Cameron, a sophomore art therapy major from St. Charles, Ill.; Emma Morrison, a senior studio art major from Forsyth, Ill.; Vaida Naris, a sophomore art therapy major from Downers Grove, Ill.; Brooke Brasile, a sophomore art therapy major from Union, Ill.; Madison Ciaccio, a senior art therapy major from Mahomet, Ill.; and Whitley Sapp, a junior physics major from Decatur.