A new art installation was introduced to the Barone Campus Center on Dec. 1, 2023 in acknowledgment of the war between Israel and Palestine. “Holy City” by Brian Whelan represents the coexistence of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, demonstrating Fairfield University’s belief that all faiths are welcome to be practiced on campus. This work is hard to miss, its 9-by-12-foot frame surely catches the eye of anyone who passes through the BCC. 

Now, another artist’s work is being highlighted right in the student hub of campus. 

Stephen Wilkes is an American photographer whose “Day to Night” collection depicts our conscious passage of time and how many moments occur within a single day. In order to create these impressive panoramic images, Wilkes shot from a fixed vantage point and remained in the same spot for 15 to 30 hours a day. The thousands of photographs captured within the day were then digitally edited for months to construct a cohesive image filled with moments and memories. In Smithsonian Magazine, Wilkes states that he’s “focused on how the eye sees and the scale in which we see the world. [In my photographs, I try to] create as much depth and peripheral vision as possible, like you’re looking through a window.”

“Easter Mass” is the photograph from the collection that will be displayed and it shows Vatican City on the religious and highly celebrated holiday. The entirety of the collection was featured in a solo exhibition at The National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2018 and also at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., in May of 2023. This museum-quality piece will be enlarged, much like the “Holy City” artwork, and will most certainly stop those passing by.

  The reason for these works being added to the Fairfield University campus is credited to Stephen Wilkes’ friendship with Dr. Philip Eliasoph, a longtime professor of Art History and Visual Culture. Additionally, Dr. Eliasoph was appointed by President Nemec in the summer of 2023 as Special Assistant to the President for Arts & Culture, in which she works closely with the Fairfield University Art Museum on-campus events. He was having dinner with Wilkes and his wife when the idea was suggested. The gigantic photo was in temporary art storage in between exhibitions, allowing availability to be borrowed by Fairfield University.

“Anticipating the pleasure – and jaw-dropping wonder – of viewing a jumbo-scaled photograph by Stephen Wilkes,” comments Dr. Eliasoph, “Fairfield University will be enriched and enchanted with the artist’s audaciously scaled format.” Dr. Eliasoph is passionate about adding culture to the lives of Fairfield University students, claiming it’s a necessity considering the amount of opportunities available to them. 

The hope is that students passing by through the BCC, perhaps walking to the Tully or taking a shortcut to get to class, are enriched by the art placed in front of them. “Our university is rising in its stature and quality, and we’re making remarkable progress,” Dr. Eliasoph says of the addition of art into everyday life on campus. “It is such a privilege to use what resources we have to broaden our relationship with culture and the world around us.”

Stephen Wilkes’ “Easter Mass” will be available to view in the Barone Campus Center on Feb. 21.

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