Art and the Mission of Regis University

In the Jesuit tradition, where the essential goodness of Creation is affirmed, and the belief that God is to be found in all things, the arts, including painting, sculpture, music, drama, architecture and dance, have all been pursued as ways to engage the human and the Divine. For Ignatius, the appropriateness of any Jesuit pursuit was to be discerned by whether or not it promoted “the greater service of God and the more universal good” (Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, no. 622). As long as the making (and appreciation) of images, music, stories and buildings achieves that purpose, there is room for that activity in the Ignatian world.

The Faith in Art Series was begun through a grant by the John and Florence Fortune Family Foundation in 2000, and has continued through other University and donor funding since that time. The goal has been to represent the University’s Jesuit, Catholic identity through art installations in classrooms, meeting rooms, and public spaces. In addition to art from the Catholic and Western traditions, the Faith in Art series has intentionally included images and artifacts from a range of faith traditions around the world. This embrace of other traditions indicates some of the historical and contemporary realities of the Jesuit embrace of the whole world, as well as a Catholic sensibility that the Spirit of God pours into all of God’s creation.

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Art installation on campus
Art installation on campus
Peter De Smet

Left to right and clockwise: Sacred Heart of Jesus in Carroll Hall, James Joyce statue on the west entry walkway to the Adult Learning Center, Pentecost Panels in the Chapel, St. John Francis Regis preaching to the people sculpture in the Chapel.

Northwest Denver Campus Outdoor Art

Art and architecture have served to teach, to inspire, to comfort, to warn, and to aid prayer and devotion. Artists and builders have created everything from an encouraging glimpse of heaven, a terrifying view of hell, and the beauty (and temptations) of earth.


Chapel Meditation Garden, west side of chapel: In 1998, Denver sculptor, Ms. Jan Van Ek, was commissioned to create a crucifix with a corpus depicting Christ as an African man. Using a life-cast of a Denver native, she created a moving portrayal of the sacrifice at Calvary. The church that had requested the artwork creation was unable to complete its part of the commission agreement, and Van Ek eventually moved to Oregon. The sculpture languished for years in the workroom of the Fedde Foundry, at which it was cast. Seeking to find a home for over a decade, foundry owner, Ray Fedde (who cast the Chapel bronze doors and Stations of the Cross) donated the sculpture to Regis University. Fedde also fabricated the new steel cross for its installation (August 2010) in the meditation garden of the Chapel. The cross is situated against the view of the mountains, in the beautiful native plantings.


Fortune Plaza between Main Hall and Chapel: Pedro Arrupe, S.J., was the prayerful and visionary 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He served in that position from 1965 to 1981. This thoughtful work was sculpted by Brian Hanlon of New Jersey, based on a famous image of the Basque-born Jesuit in Zen-like meditation. This is a twin of an image at Arrupe Jesuit High School in North Denver. Across the stairs from the bronze is a unique glass sculpture designed by Jim Fletemeyer and Associates that displays the famous “Prayer of Arrupe” (“Nothing is more practical than finding God…”) with background images evocative of Japanese scroll painting. (Arrupe was Superior of the Jesuit house near Hiroshima at the time of the bombings of WW II.) Plaques explaining some of the history of Father Arrupe accompany the artworks.


East of Loyola Hall: From Minnesota, Alexander Tylevich, an award-winning, Russian-born sculptor, created the 35 foot tall sculpture of “The Tree of Wisdom” that incorporates the cross of Christ, rays of steel cable, multiple spirals, and cast symbolic images of the disciplines taught in the Science Center. This elegant assemblage of shapes and modern materials is crowned by a circle of stainless steel “ribbons” referencing Jesus' crown of thorns and the cosmic kingship of Christ.


In the plaza adjoining Carroll Hall: this life-size sculpture of the founder of the Jesuit enterprise was sculpted by Jack Kreutzer. The plaza includes etched pavement installations of the University crest, a beautiful natural rock fountain, and a “compass rose” whose points articulate the primary “Jesuit Virtues” (cura personalis, magis, etc.).

Our Lady of Loretto Grotto

Our Lady of Loretto Grotto

In the heart of the NorthWest Denver campus is a peaceful groove where students and staff alike can find tranquility, peace and space from the busyness of life. Created by Father James Hannon in 1950, this area is a wonderful place for prayer and reflection. The Grotto of Our Lady of Loretto has always been a landmark on Regis campus for years and now with its new redesign, is taking on a new life.

St. John Francis Regis Chapel Art

The Saint John Francis Regis Chapel is a finally-realized dream of many within the Regis community. Designed by Soderstrom and Associates, Architects, from Portland,Oregon, its soaring spaces, wide vistas, and thoughtful use of natural materials combine to create a unique, flexible and energetic space for prayer, reflection, and Faith and Mission related activities. A mandated dynamic of the chapel is that it should serve as a teaching place about the Catholic faith as well as a place of prayer. and worship Visual art serves in a similar tradition of the great cathedrals of Europe, to instruct in the stories of the faith, and to inspire with representational and abstracted art.

Jesus in the Chapel
Madonna Della Strada
Bronze door panels
Narthex “Come to the Water"

Left to Right and clockwise: The Chapel Crucifixion, Narthex "Come to the Water" door panels, Bronze Door Panels, Icon of Madonna Della Strada

Classrooms, Meeting Rooms and Corridors

Art and Faith installations began with the Lowell Campus’ main classroom buildings. There are reproductions of art from the Western tradition of Christian painting (Gothic masters, Greek icons, Fra Angelico, Hieronymous Bosch, Michel-angelo, Da Vinic and others).


The Mary Room – Main Hall 304: Multiple images of Mary through the centuries and in different cultures give a glimpse of the different theologies, church views, and interpretation of this central figure in the story of Jesus.

Regis Santos Collection – Dayton Memorial Library, second floor: This extensive (and rotating) collection of both antique and contemporary Hispanic Catholic devotional art from the American Southwest has been the life’s work of Father Thomas Steele, S.J. Fr. Steele edited The Regis Santos: Thirty Years of Collecting, 1966-1996, which describes the holdings within that period.


Learn More About Regis University

Regis University has a long history of Jesuit Catholic tradition that influences the art and mission of the institution.