A tour of incoming first-year students passes through the front hallway of the Pulichino Tong Business Center. A young man peels off from the pack of a dozen fresh faces.
He reads the plaque on the wall for the four-panel art piece in front of him, “River.”
“Wow, cool,” he says, reading the artist’s statement about the vividly colored piece before rejoining the tour.
The artist, fine arts
graduate Andrew Fournier ’19, stands a few feet away. His “River,” a winding photographic work, uses long exposures and a strong imagination to show the Merrimack River’s history as a partner in Lowell’s legacy of innovation.
“It’s crazy,” Fournier says, minutes after overseeing the finishing touches of the work’s installation. “I’m really blown away. That’s my vision up there. People will be viewing and experiencing it. It feels surreal.”
His work is a bridge connecting art and business, North and South campuses, and the lives of an artist, from amateur to professional.
Since he graduated with a degree in Fine Arts, Fournier has been employed by Boston hospitals, photographing newborns.
Increasingly, student art like Fournier’s will be purchased and hung by UML, says Senior Campus Planner Barbara Gilbert, who heads up the Student Art Purchase Program committee. Gilbert also co-chairs the Art, Artifacts and Archives Committee
under UML’s 2020 Strategic Plan
, aimed at “improving the quality, presence and process for placing art on campus, particularly supportive of student-generated work.”
Several more pieces, including a range of styles from animation and posters to digital projects, will find homes on the walls of the second floor of University Crossing. Gilbert says that 18 engineering student projects will also be mounted in Southwick Hall over the coming months. As new works are added, existing works may rotate to new spots on campus.
“We should be displaying the work of our student artists,” says Gilbert. “Andrew is a great example. He learns about art as a student, and now he’s supervising the installation of one of his works. He’s now at a level he wasn’t before. He can say his work is installed at the university. And at the same time, the university is recognizing one of our own.”
Students are compensated for the work the university decides to exhibit.
“I love it,” she says. “And I love the fact that it’s one of our students’ work. I love that our students will walk by it every day. “
“I hope they’ll stop for at least a moment to just take it in,” says Fournier. “Maybe even read the statement. It would be great if they’d take a minute to get immersed in it. I just hope it gets them to look at art.”