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Richard Hunt sculptures installed at Centennial Chapel

Posted: May 09, 2013


"Eternal Life"


"The Bush Was Not Consumed," installed inside Crawford Auditorium in Centennial Chapel


Richard Hunt, sculptor, at the installation ceremony

Two bronze sculptures by the esteemed American sculptor Richard Hunt have found a new home at Olivet. Created in 1983 for Temple B’nai Israel in Kankakee, these outstanding works of art were recently purchased from the Temple by President and Mrs. John C. Bowling and given to Olivet. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to charity by the Temple.

Best known for his abstract metal sculptures and public artwork, Mr. Hunt was commissioned to create both works. He attended the installation ceremony on Friday, May 3, 2013. Other distinguished guests included Eva-Maria Worthington, art historian and founder of Chicago’s Worthington Gallery; Marlu Johnson, artist and friend of Mr. Hunt; and Nina Epstein, mayor of Kankakee.

“The Bush Was Not Consumed” was commissioned by the family of David Blatt, who was a business owner and developer in the Kankakee area. It was installed inside Centennial Chapel in the Crawford Auditorium. “Displayed in prominent ascension above the center doors, this sculpture is there for every exiting soul to see and to be centered themselves,” said Dr. Gregg Chenoweth, vice president for academic affairs, as he opened the installation ceremony.

“Eternal Life,” a welded bronze sculpture, was commissioned by former Illinois Governor Samuel Shapiro to honor his late wife, Gertrude. It was installed on the Betty and Kenneth Hawkins Centennial Chapel esplanade.

“It’s not very often that such a creative act of relocating and repurposing keeps sculptures in a community,” Mr. Hunt said. “These are two very special pieces to me. Now, they are available to a larger audience. Seeing them resurrected in this facility fills me with pleasure and pride. I appreciate the creative resolution for these works.”

“Mr. Hunt’s hands and heart created these meaningful works of art,” said Dr. Brian Allen, vice president of institutional advancement. “Dr. and Mrs. Bowling have modeled generosity among us.”

Representing the Shapiro family, the Blatt family and the Temple, Jerome Shapiro — nephew of Gov. Shapiro and a local business leader — expressed thanks that these works will be preserved and displayed at Olivet. He was part of the committee that decided that Olivet’s campus was the best spot to house the two sculptures.

“Sam and Gertrude were devoted to each other,” Mr. Shapiro said. “This sculpture was a way to help keep their love alive. The words ‘Those who are remembered never die’ are inscribed on the ‘Eternal Life’ sculpture.”

Shapiro provided an additional bit of historical fact. Samuel Shapiro was once a student at St. Viator’s College in Bourbonnais, the site where Olivet now stands. “Sam loved this community, and he was committed to bettering our educational system,” he added. “It’s fitting that these sculptures be in a place that was once Sam’s educational home, a place where educational opportunities abound.”

With more than 30 public works displayed in the Chicago area alone, Mr. Hunt has works displayed by schools, businesses, medical centers, libraries and other locations in Illinois, Texas, Michigan, California and Washington, D.C., among other places.

He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as awards from The Art Institute of Chicago and the National Academy of Design. He was one of the first artists to serve on the governing board of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2009, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center. In 2010, he received the Legacy Award from the United Negro College Fund.

A native of Chicago, he continues to work in his studio on West Lill Avenue in Chicago.