Joy spilled out of the packed gallery into the hallway as Caldwell University unveiled the “Mueller Gallery” signage at the Homecoming festivities Saturday, Sept. 24. Alumni, students, faculty, staff and administration were honored and thrilled to be celebrating with Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P., as the art gallery was named after her.
Caldwell University President Nancy Blattner, Ph.D., OPA, assisted Sister Gerardine with cutting the red ribbon to signal the official opening of the gallery.
Sister Gerardine, the foundress of the university’s Art Department, was grateful and surprised at the large turnout of former students and Homecoming attendees. “It was unexpected that they would respond to the gallery naming as they did. It was just beautiful,” she said.
A sister, a teacher, a mentor, an artist and a professor emerita, Mueller is an iconic presence on Caldwell’s campus and is remembered by her students for the lessons and inspiration she shared with them.
At 96 years old, she has a lifetime of artistic works encompassing different mediums including sculpture, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, woodcarvings and clay.
Alumna Agnes Dembia ’69 was happy to attend the dedication and “see such a glorious acknowledgment of Sister Gerardine and her many contributions to Caldwell University”. Dembia recalled how when she was in the third or fourth grade she saw a color photo spread of Sister Gerardine’s illuminated manuscripts in The Daily News. “Immediately I knew that I wanted her to be my teacher one day and promised myself that it would happen! In my senior year at Caldwell, I took her class in calligraphy and illumination and loved it. I went on to earn a master’s degree in art education. To this day I still enjoy the practice of calligraphy”.
Alumna Elaine Weiss Yonke ’69 was proud to attend the dedication. “Her art is everywhere you look around the campus, yet she remains so humble. I know she is grateful for this special honor, and it was so good to be there and see her smile. She has always inspired me to do my best, to be open to new ideas and to keep going despite setbacks. She taught me to always be true to myself”.
The new gallery is located in the Student Center and will provide a beautiful space for displaying student works and holding special exhibitions.
Sister Gerardine said the gallery naming was recognition of the work done on behalf of the Sisters of St. Dominic congregation at the university. “The gallery leaves a physical, lasting mark of the sisters’ work—of the sisters’ presence—and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have worked in that area of the university.”