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Student art gallery opens at airport

The Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority and Illinois State University College of Fine Arts have announced the opening of the new ISU School of Art Student Art Gallery at the Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA). The School of Art Student Art Gallery is located across from the main entryway inside the terminal building at 3201 East Empire in Bloomington.

Conversations with Illinois State University to place a student art gallery in the terminal building began in earnest approximately 18 months ago after the airport approached the University about the possibility. The College of Fine Arts, School of Art, and University Galleries have worked collaboratively to realize this initiative with CIRA. Additionally, financial support from COUNTRY Financial was instrumental in helping the School of Art renovate this space.

two people looking at paintings

Patrons peruse the art at the ISU School of Art Student Art Gallery at the Central Illinois Regional Airport.

The new gallery is housed in the former gift shop, which was relocated to the gate area beyond security in 2017. The inaugural exhibition features paintings by Spencer Molnar and ceramic works by Mary Wilhelm, both second-year Master’s of Fine Arts students in the School of Art.

Supporting and promoting local artists has long been a tradition of CIRA. When the terminal building opened in November 2001, art installations of local and regional artists were commissioned and included throughout the building. The Airport Authority continues this tradition through the installation of the School of Art Student Art Gallery.

“The addition of the ISU School of Art Student Art Gallery dovetails well into CIRA’s history of featuring works of art created by local and regional artists,” said Jay Allen, chairman of the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority. “We are appreciative of Illinois State University’s partnership and the aesthetics and pleasure the gallery will bring to our passengers, visitors, and staff.”

“The College is excited to bring the artworks of ISU’s talented School of Art students to the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority and public,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Jean Miller. “We appreciate this opportunity, and also COUNTRY Financial for their support of this project.”

“The School of Art takes pride in offering unique opportunities for students to gain professional experience in their chosen field of study,” said Michael Wille, director of the School of Art at Illinois State. “Whether an internship in graphic design, a clinical experience in a K-12 school, or exhibiting one’s artwork in a gallery, we work to offer a transformational educational experience for our talented students. This new gallery will be a highly sought-after exhibition venue for our student artists, and it will also provide our vibrant art community a new way to see the exciting artwork being made in our university’s School of Art.”


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