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Caldwell University Dedicates New Art Gallery to Sister Gerardine Mueller

Caldwell University unveiled the new Mueller Art Gallery, named after Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P., artist and professor emerita (center). She is pictured with Caldwell University President Nancy Blattner and Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs Kevin Boyle.

Caldwell University held a dedication ceremony at Homecoming Sept. 24 to unveil the Mueller Gallery, named in honor of Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P., ’54.

Dr. Nancy Blattner, Caldwell’s president, welcomed an overflow crowd of alumni, students, faculty, staff and administration in attendance to honor Sister Gerardine and to witness the ribbon cutting. A second reception, held Nov. 5, was attended by more than 75 guests, including alumni who traveled from as far as North Carolina, Ohio and Vermont.

The new gallery, located in the Student Center, provides an ideal space for exhibitions that will include the work of students and alumni.

As a Sister of St. Dominic, an artist, a teacher, mentor and colleague, Mueller is an iconic presence on Caldwell’s campus and is remembered by her students for the lessons and inspiration she shared with them. As founder of the university’s Art Department, she was grateful to see many of her former students and friends, some of whom she had not seen in decades.

Mueller’s body of work is formidable, encompassing sculpture, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, woodcarvings and clay.

Alumna Agnes Dembia ’69 attended the Homecoming dedication and was thrilled to “see such a glorious acknowledgment of Sister Gerardine and her many contributions to Caldwell University.” Dembia recalled how when she was in the third or fourth grade she saw a color photo spread of Sister Gerardine’s illuminated manuscripts in The Daily News. “Immediately I knew that I wanted her to be my teacher one day and promised myself that it would happen! In my senior year at Caldwell, I took her class in calligraphy and illumination and loved it. I went on to earn a master’s degree in art education. To this day I still enjoy the practice of calligraphy.”

Alumna Elaine Weiss Yonke ’69 was proud to attend the dedication. “Her art is everywhere you look around the campus, yet she remains so humble. I know she is grateful for this special honor, and it was so good to be there and see her smile. She has always inspired me to do my best, to be open to new ideas and to keep going despite setbacks. She taught me to always be true to myself.”

Sister Gerardine said the gallery naming was recognition of the work done on behalf of the Sisters of St. Dominic congregation at the university. “The gallery leaves a physical, lasting mark of the sisters’ work—of the sisters’ presence—and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have worked in that area of the university.”