Benedictine University is a private Catholic university, nestled in the west Chicago suburban community of Lisle, Illinois. Over the last forty years, the university has developed an expansive permanent art collection, which includes fine and applied arts;consisting of local, regional and internationally-recognized artists. In lieu of not having a university art gallery, the university appropriated various spaces on its campus over the years (in display cases and hallways) as needed. Exhibitions originated on the fourth floor of Old Ben Hall, and took place in Lownik Hall, Krasa Center, and Kindlon Hall of Learning. Old Ben Hall's fourth floor was filled with the collection until its demolition, upon which Fr. Komechak dispersed the collection throughout the campus and moved into 900 square feet of space in Scholl Hall.
Since 2009, exhibition space in the first and second floors of Kindlon Hall and the display cases of Krasa Center, has provided temporary exhibits of the permanent collection, donations and acquisitions as well as artwork by students, faculty, local, national and international artists. In December of 2012, the president of Benedictine University, Dr. William Carroll, announced that Benedictine University was going ahead with plans to build the Fr. Michael Komechak, O.S.B. Art Gallery on the 5th floor of Kindlon Hall of Learning. The gallery space and archival and storage space total 2700 square feet, plus an additional 2000 square feet on the north end of the fifth floor which is used for hosting events. On August 19, 2013, Fr. Michael's birthday, the ribbon was cut at an opening reception for the new, much anticipated, vital and unique art gallery.
Born in 1932 in Gary, Ind., Edward Komechak, came to Lisle, Illinois in 1946 to attend St. Procopius Academy. He graduated from what is now, Benet Academy, in 1950 and attended St. Procopius College, graduating in 1954. Edward Komechak entered the monastery at St. Procopius Abbey and was ordained a Catholic priest and took the name Michael in 1959. Fr. Michael earned a master's degree in literature at the University of Notre Dame in 1961.
In 1965 he was asked by Abbot Daniel Kucera, O.S.B. and Dr. William Carroll, president of then Illinois Benedictine College to oversee the planning of the St. Procopius Abbey church and monastery, to be located on the east side of College Road. Fr. Michael advocated for the architect, Edward Dart, and Dart was chosen to design the building, which was dedicated in 1968. The abbey church and monastery have since won numerous architectural and design awards.
In 1978, Fr, Michael E. Komechak, O.S.B. earned a bachelor of fine arts degree at Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee and established a new fine arts department at Illinois Benedictine College. In addition to teaching English and serving as the chair of the Department of Fine Arts at St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University) , he also, served as a residence hall counselor, yearbook adviser, campus minister and counselor and led 24 tours to the finest art sites in Europe. All the while he was collecting, organizing and cataloging what is now known as the Benedictine University Art Collection.
After retiring from teaching, he remained curator of the collection and he was passionate about celebrating the works of others. He served as a judge at many fine art fairs, was the abbey photographer and lectured at the Art Institute of Chicago and through his lecturing he came to know many well-respected people in the art world. Much of the university's collection came through donations which were given directly to him. Through his dedication to collecting, Fr. Michael became one of the most respected curators in the Midwest.
Fr. Michael celebrated the 50th anniversary of his vocation in May of 2009 and he passed away from pancreatic cancer on August 30, 2009 at the age of 77. His dream was to have an appropriate gallery for archiving and exhibiting the art collection and on August 19, 2013, on his birthday and four years after he passed away, the Fr. Michael E. Komechak, O.S.B. Art Gallery was installed on the fifth floor of the Kindlon Hall of Learning at Benedictine University.
From the time that you step onto the Benedictine University, look around. The Art Collection is not just in the Art Gallery, the fruit of Fr. Michael’s collecting and his love of art are everywhere. You see it in the hallways, in the stairways. Everywhere you look, there is art and through the art you will see the spirit of Fr. Michael at Benedictine University.
M.S. Illinois State University, Normal, IL
M.F.A. Illinois State University, Normal, IL
M.S. Illinois State University, Normal, IL
B.F.A. Miami University, Oxford, OH
Workshops - The Campbell Center for Preservation Studies, Mt. Carroll, IL
Parker has gained recognition as an artist, curator, educator, and writer. She has exhibited her artwork throughout the United States and Latin America; and is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment of Humanities, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Art Council. As a passionate advocate for the arts, Parker has earned acclaim through her curatorial experiences with several galleries, including Curtis Allen Turner Fine Arts (Chicago), Founding Director of Parker Press, Curator/Interim Director for Elmhurst Art Museum, Director/Curator of the Crown Center Gallery at Loyola University Chicago, and currently is Curator of Exhibitions and University Art Collections at Benedictine University. In addition to curating over one hundred fifty exhibitions of contemporary art for galleries, universities and museums, Parker has curated several international exhibitions and has worked with the Consulate Generals of India, Slovakia and Switzerland. Parker’s continuing interest in the rights of women and children compelled her to work as Art Consultant for AKTSinc., and she was Founding Director of the Coral Rose Foundation, a not-for-profit organization devoted to the social and artistic preservation of indigenous cultures. Parker now teaches art and art history at College of DuPage and Benedictine University, is Director of Ochosi Editions, a networking resource for printmakers, and is Director/Writer for That’s Inked Up, a blog on contemporary printmaking.
The Fine Arts at Benedictine University
|1896||Benedictine monks purchased land in Lisle, IL|
|1900||Ground-breaking and cornerstone laid for St. Procopius College in Lisle|
|1910||First Bachelor of Arts degrees conferred|
|1920||Music, art and drama courses were added to the curriculum|
|1971||St. Procopius College renamed Illinois Benedictine College|
|1978||The Fine Arts Minor was established
The Fine arts Collection was begun with a donation of 400 prints from the Amoco Oil Company
|1980s||Exhibitions were held in the exhibit hall of Lownik hall and the lower level display cases of Krasa|
|1990||William Scarlato was hired to head Fine Arts program|
|1990s||A Fine Arts Core Elective was implemented throughout the university|
|1996||Illinois Benedictine College was renamed Benedictine University|
|2000||The Bachelor of Arts degree with a Studio Arts emphasis was established|
|2001||Fr. Michael Komechak, O.S.B. retires and continued to curate exhibits and add artwork to the permanent collection|
|2008||The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree was established in conjunction with College of DuPage|
|2009||Fr. Michael Komechak, O.S.B., Curator, passes away
Teresa J. Parker hired as Curator of Benedictine University Art Collections and Exhibitions
Special ceremony to dedicate the permanent art collection in Fr. Michael Komechak’s memory and name
|2010||Exhibitions expanded to first and second floors of the Kindlon Hall of Learning|
|2011||Hai Ri Han hired to head new Graphic Arts and Design program|
|2012||President William Carroll announces the new Fr. Michael Komechak O.S.B. Gallery to be installed on the fifth floor of the Kindlon Hall of Learning by August of 2013|
|2013||Opening of the Fr. Michael Komechak O.S.B. Art Gallery|