Students in Maureen Chavez-Kruger’s “Understanding Art 150” classes have found a unique way to engage and
inspire others with their recent creations. In this case, it is for those
people among us who are often the most in need of inspiration and support.
Her classes have completed work on an art installation
titled "The Alphabet Harmony Panel Project" at the Cathedral Center. The
Cathedral Center is a homeless shelter in downtown Milwaukee which provides emergency facility and case
management services for individual women and families who are homeless or
experiencing a housing crisis.
The students’ art, geared to be visually and intellectually
stimulating for children, was installed on the
walls of the family floor at the center, which can serve up to 32 single women
and eight families per day. Students were asked to create
a 12 x 12 image associated with the letters of the alphabet so that parents and
children can engage in the artwork.
“It’s a safe, clean facility…
everything a shelter needs to be, but it’s lacking a little bit of
color,” said Chavez-Kruger. “We created art that will help heal and comfort the
parents and children that stay at the center. It’s not just a pretty picture;
we want something that people can interact with.”
Chavez-Kruger, who has personally supported the shelter as a
volunteer for six years, was enthused about the potential to connect classroom
activities to community needs.
“I’ve been working towards giving my students an opportunity
to witness the power of art and how it can impact the life of others,” she
A total of 30 students are involved in this project, which
is serving as their final exam for the course. On May 9, one group of students
installed the art and the other served dinner to guests at the shelter.
Kim Theno, director of resource development at the shelter,
greatly appreciates the support, and was especially impressed by the diverse
range of creativity displayed by the student artists.
“It’s not just art majors; they are business and economic
majors and others involved,” she said. “They all bring a different strength to
Forty percent of the current residents of the shelter have
been the victims of domestic violence, and the demands for service often exceed
what the shelter can offer. This makes the help of outside organizations like
Stritch essential for them.
“When people learn about our needs, they want to help,” Theno
Students also conducted a donation drive, collecting items
of the greatest need at the shelter, including shaving cream, deodorant, baby
wipes, diapers, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, paper towel,
washcloths, and non-perishable snack items.
“The students have
been working hard and are very proud of what they’ve been doing, both inside
and outside the classroom, to live out the Franciscan values at the
university,” said Chavez-Kruger.