THE ARTS WERE ALIVE — and thriving — at Valparaiso University in 2014. The Brauer Museum of Art welcomed a world-renowned artist’s work; Shakespeare Week was launched by Christ College in collaboration with departments in other colleges; and the Department of Music hosted dozens of performances while also announcing that Valpo’s esteemed Chorale will perform at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 2017 on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses, noted by historians as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
What makes the Arts at Valpo so special is the collaboration among the departments as well as their accessibility to all students, regardless of their major.
“The performing arts at Valpo provide students the opportunity to seamlessly interact between disciplines, such as music and theatre, knowing that auditions are open, and placement is based upon skills and not major,” said Jeff Hazewinkel ’89, director of the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts (VUCA). “We certainly promote the ability to follow your dreams.”
In addition, significant scholarships are available to music and non-music major students, allowing skilled performers to pursue their passion for music while also studying another field.
While a vast majority of the arts programs at Valpo take place in one building, the VUCA, just outside the building’s walls, the installation of the acclaimed work “Borders” by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir meant that the entire Valpo community — not just those interested in the arts — could interact with this “challenging and highly regarded sculptural work,” said Gregg Hertzlieb, MFA, director and curator for the Brauer Museum of Art.
The 11 pairs of life-sized sculptures, made of cast iron and aluminum, represent contrasts in life and the human condition — light and shadow, heavy and light, heaven and earth. According to Thórarinsdóttir, the installation engages the viewers in a direct and intimate way and can be seen as symbols of humanity and cultural diversity.
“The figures are different and yet the same, just like the flesh-and-blood people who inspect and pose with these sculptures, and who each day experience differences with fellow humans that they try to resolve and comprehend as they inhabit the same spaces, essentially limited by borders both external and internal,” Director Hertzlieb said.
In addition to accessibility and collaboration, the various arts programs at Valpo intentionally intersect with faith, making the programs integral to the University’s Lutheran ethos.
For example, the Chorale is deeply connected to the historical musical roots of the Lutheran church, unlike any other school in the U.S. The Kantorei, a select 36-voice ensemble that serves the Chapel of the Resurrection, is known for exploration of international music and introduction of new liturgies and hymns. In addition, the Bach Institute at Valpo exists to ensure the legacy of the music and theological perspective of Johann Sebastian Bach for future generations.