BLOOMINGTON — The creator of the popular "Family with Dog" sculpture on display at Illinois Wesleyan University is thrilled it's found a home there.
"It's a very great pleasure to find my 'Family' has found a family," said sculptor Boaz Vaadia of New York. "I feel blessed by it."
After a yearlong loan to IWU, "Family with Dog" will become a permanent fixture on the quad because of a donation from the family of a former school trustee and State Farm executive.
"I was so blown away by the beauty and enhancement that this piece brought to campus," said Stevie Joslin, widow of IWU trustee Roger Joslin. "I told Roger, 'I have found the perfect gift for Illinois Wesleyan.' ... Two weeks later, he passed. I made a call to (IWU Associate Vice President for Advancement) Steve Seibring, and the rest is history."
Joslin, Vaadia and others spoke at a dedication ceremony for the sculpture Tuesday. About 40 attended, including Ed Rust Jr., State Farm's chairman of the board and an IWU graduate.
The sculpture was one of six pieces installed at IWU during summer 2014 on a yearlong loan from Florida's Sarasota Season of Sculpture.
IWU President Dick Wilson — who will step down at the end of October — said his wife, Pat, was instrumental in bringing those pieces to campus, and he's thrilled one will stay.
"Frankly, I was not too optimistic we would be able to make these arrangements, but I failed to recognize my wife's determination to make it happen," he said with a laugh. "Everyone had their favorite, but 'Family with Dog' was a clear winner in terms of popularity."
Jake Thaker, president of IWU Student Senate, agreed.
"Mr. Vaadia's art has truly changed the way our campus feels, and for the better," he said. "'Family with Dog' can now forever remind us of our close-knit campus family."
Steve Wannemacher, a board of trustees member and 1973 IWU graduate, dedicated the statue in front of Joslin Atrium, which is named for Roger Joslin's family.
"Over the coming decades, may this sculpture signal to everyone that the arts are an integral part of the university's mission," he said. "And through this gift, may future generations come to know and appreciate the generosity of the family of Roger and Stevie Joslin."
Jim Joslin, Roger and Stevie's son and a 1993 IWU graduate, said the sculpture is just the latest step in the beautification of the school that's progressed rapidly since he graduated.
"Mr. Vaadia, your sculpture is the icing on that gorgeous cake," he said.