Catholic Ministry Facilities to Expand
This summer, Muhlenberg will expand its Newman Center facilities in support of the Roman Catholic campus ministry. The Newman Center, currently located in a twin home at 2339 Liberty Street, will expand to include the other half of the twin, 2343 Liberty Street. This space currently houses athletic offices, which will be relocated into the newly renovated Life Sports Center, scheduled to open in August.
The space at 2343 Liberty, which is now used by the College’s field hockey and lacrosse coaches, was previously the home for Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Life. A few years ago, Hillel moved to a new house at 2238 Chew Street.
“Approximately one-third of our students are Catholic and we simply need more space,” says the Rev. Peter Bredlau, who oversees campus ministry at Muhlenberg College. “Father John Krivak does an outstanding job and has created a vibrant spiritual and social life for our Roman Catholic students.”
Bredlau notes that the College has been extremely supportive of the Newman Center and all religious life on campus.
“The College has recognized that increased participation leads to an increased need for facilities for all of our religious life programming,” he adds.
The athletic offices will be vacated in August and, shortly thereafter, work will begin on renovations to 2343 Liberty Street. The renovations will include a chapel space for daily Mass, a resource center and library, additional space for dinners and discussion groups and office space for students and worship leaders.
Everyone has a theory about Victor’s Lament, the notably large, red, steel sculpture on the College Green. Is it a mule? A horse? A man in a wheelchair? The piece by Mark di Suvero is actually non-objective, says Martin Art Gallery director Lori Verderame, Ph.D. A complex pulley system and steel I-beam sculpture, Victor’s Lament came to Muhlenberg on April 27, 1979, and has been a fixture on the main lawn ever since.
Why did Muhlenberg pick this piece? For one, at the time when this piece was up for discussion, di Suvero was an “up and coming” public sculptor. Di Suvero’s most significant artistic contributions derived from the manner in which he broke with tradition. He moved beyond traditional woodcarving and embraced the materials, methods and progressive spirit of the modern age. Innovative technology, factory-inspired tools and underutilized materials offered new options for sculptural expression after World War II and as a result, di Suvero pioneered assemblage, the art of putting together three-dimensional compositions made of various materials. His work appears at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., as well as in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and at Madison Square Park in New York City.
Another reason that Victor’s Lament was chosen was that it represents Muhlenberg and the Lehigh Valley. “Its largeness and flowing movements reflects Muhlenberg’s large voice in the flexible Lehigh Valley, while also representing the Allentown and Bethlehem areas as a whole,” says Verderame. “This steel I-beam structure is a perfect fit in with Allentown and Bethlehem’s steel industry background.”
With the help of the Berman family of the Lehigh Valley and the National Endowment for the Arts, Muhlenberg brought the 21-foot, 10-ton sculpture to campus in 1979 in its original color, black. When the color was changed to red in 1995, many people assumed the change was made to represent Muhlenberg’s color, cardinal. In fact, di Suvero had always intended Victor’s Lament to be red, and in 1997, he came to Muhlenberg to see it.
To keep this beautiful sculpture looking great, Victor’s Lament is regularly repainted under the supervision of the plant operations staff in cooperation with Mark di Suvero’s studio. “It will be repainted this summer, due to the natural wear and tear that comes along with being an outside sculpture,” says Dick Begbie, assistant director of plant operations, noting that the sculpture’s cables are also replaced every five years to ensure its safety.
For more information about Victor’s Lament or other pieces in Muhlenberg’s permanent art collection, visit www.muhlenberg.edu/cultural/gallery.