Emeritus faculty art on display in Bayh College of Education

April 23, 2010

A large Sycamore leaf woodcarving and a watercolor painting of the University Hall atrium decorate the walls of the Whitaker Executive Conference Center in the Bayh College of Education.

The Sycamore leaf carving was created by Bob DeFrance, assistant professor emeritus of education in the curriculum, instruction and media technology department. The watercolor painting of the University Hall atrium was created by Gail Huffman-Joley, dean and professor emerita of the College of Education.

"As emeriti, their contributions to the college and the university have been significant," said Brad Balch, dean of the Bayh College of Education. "Educator preparation prospered because of their personal and professional commitments. Displaying their art honors an important legacy and contributes to the professional space that exists in University Hall."

Conferences, meetings and other events take place in the Whitaker Executive Conference Center, making it an important space in University Hall.

"We wanted to place the art pieces in a high-visibility space - one that would be enjoyed by internal and external stakeholders to the college," Balch said.

Huffman-Joley began taking art lessons in elementary school, eventually studying watercolor with artists in St. Louis and Columbia, Mo. She graduated from college with a degree in elementary education, and painting took a back seat to her career, though she maintained an interest in art, visiting art museums in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States.

Huffman-Joley began teaching at Indiana State in 1987, then serving as dean of the Indiana State University College of Education from 1990 to1997. When she retired in 2002, she began studying watercolor again. She has served as president of the Georgetown County Watercolor Society in South Carolina, and remains active in the arts community in her area.

When the faculty members in the Bayh College of Education were preparing to move to University Hall, Balch asked Huffman-Joley to paint a watercolor of the new building. Campus photographers Tony Campbell and Kara Berchem supplied Huffman-Joley with photographs of the building. She chose to paint the atrium after seeing a photograph taken by Berchem.

"When I saw the beautiful, unique atrium, I knew immediately that was what I wanted to paint," Huffman-Joley said.

In the soft, pastel colors of watercolor, Huffman-Joley's painting depicts the view from the southwest corner of the atrium, looking northwest across the atrium.

She was honored to be asked to create a painting.

"I feel that the university gave me so much when I was there," Huffman-Joley said. "It's a small way for me to give something back."

DeFrance has been a wood craftsman for years, creating intricately carved dogs, puppets, geese, ducks, bowls, spoons, checkerboards and even sycamore leaves.

"I hit the nail on the head when I started carving sycamore leaves," DeFrance said.

He carved leaves for friends who retired from Indiana State University and then later created leaves that the university purchased to give to alumni and retiring professors.

DeFrance began teaching at Indiana State in 1973 in the Laboratory School, now University Hall. His art now hangs in the renovated building..

"We've gone full circle," he said.

In his last few years at Indiana State, he supervised student teachers. After witnessing the relationship that developed between the student teachers and the host teachers, DeFrance decided to make wooden hall passes in the shape of a key for the host teachers.

"I'm kind of proud that I could incorporate my hobby and use it as part of my professional experience," he said.

DeFrance created the leaf that now hangs in University Hall before he retired in 2007. In 2006, DeFrance was featured on WTIU, the public television station licensed to Indiana University. In the interview, he was shown carving the sycamore leaf that now hangs in University Hall. The leaf first hung in his office, and then upon his retirement he gave it to Balch.

The leaf is made of two pieces of wood that DeFrance fused together, which he described as quite the engineering feat. One portion of the leaf appears to have curled over. DeFrance created the leaf by starting with a chunk of wood and carving it down. The finished product, which is about 30 inches wide, shows the variation of the wood across the three-dimensional leaf.

"I thought if I could make a big leaf I could make an even bigger leaf, and if I could make a bigger leaf, then I could make an even bigger leaf," DeFrance said.

DeFrance is involved with Arts Illiana and the Terre Haute Art Guild. In May, he will be the featured Artist of the Month with his work on display in the Vigo County Public Library.

"We would all like to have a little piece of posterity to leave behind," he said. "I may not be leaving an artistic legacy, but I'm at least leaving a creative residue. I expect these items will continue to have value and be appreciated long after I'm gone...that's part of my motivation."

Both Huffman-Joley and DeFrance will be present at the Bayh College of Education Honor Day April 28 in University Hall. Student organizations will be selling note cards of Huffman-Joley's painting. The proceeds from the sale will go toward the Dr. Gail Huffman-Joley Scholarship fund. DeFrance will have a table set up displaying finished and unfinished pieces of woodcarvings.

"Their art contributions also exemplify the artisan-like qualities that educator preparation faculty must possess to be successful in their trade," Balch said. "Like the artist, education faculty members improve their craft over time - something that is shared and enjoyed by others."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/UH-Art/DSC5555UHArt/845492642_cJwmS-D.jpg
A wooden leaf carved by Bob DeFrance assistant professor emeritus of education in the curriculum, instruction and media technology, hangs over the fireplace in the Bayh College of Education's Whitaker Executive Conference Center.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/UH-Art/DSC5583UHArt/845493105_gommf-D.jpg
A watercolor painting by Gail Huffman-Joley, dean and professor emerita of the College of Education, also hangs in the Bayh College of Education's Whitaker Executive Conference Center.

Contact: Brad Balch, dean of the Bayh College of Education, Indiana State University, 812-237-2919 or Bradley.Balch@indstate.edu

Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or lschrock1@indstate.edu