Five days before the Elmhurst College art department’s spring senior capstone reception, graphic design major Tara Flatley discovered her artwork stolen from its Frick Center display.
The stolen artwork included two tickets, two album cases, five stickers, and a phone case, which were part of Flatley’s exhibit for a fictionalized alternative and R&B-inspired band called The Haze.
“I wanted to cry,” said Flatley. “But I ended up being kind of flattered that people liked it [my art] enough to take it.”
The campus was first notified about the theft in a schoolwide email sent by President Troy VanAken on May 2.
“Please feel to return [the missing artwork] to Founders Lounge or drop off at the President’s Office where no questions will be asked,” said VanAken in the email. “As you can imagine, this is really important to these graduating seniors.”
Flatley first noticed her work missing on April 30, a day after she had set up her capstone project in the Founders Lounge with a note explicitly stating to not take anything from the table.
After realizing her work was nowhere to be found, she went to her professor and art department chair, Dustan Creech, to ask if her grade would be affected due to the missing work. Creech then sought VanAken’s help to retrieve the artwork, which led to the May 2 email, according to Flatley.
In response to the theft, students, including Flatley, who emptied her table display until the May 4 public reception, took varying measures to protect their senior capstone art projects.
“When I found out Tara’s work had been stolen, I secured my banner with zip ties in fear of it being stolen as a precaution” said graphic design major Joseph Barrette, whose artwork is also being displayed along with eight other seniors who are also part of the capstone exhibit.
The theft has been a shock for many art students, since the exhibit is an important event for graduating art majors who are required to create an art project in their area of expertise, plan their exhibit, and produce all flyers for the event.
“It made me feel like people don’t understand how much time and effort goes into making even the smallest things,” said Taylor Lutz, another senior who has her work displayed at the exhibit. “To them it’s just a finished product, they don’t see everything that went into it.”
While there are security cameras in Founders Lounge, Flatley does not know if they have been checked to locate who stole her artwork.
As of May 5, the Office of Campus Security declined to comment if a report had been filed in regards to the theft.
The senior art capstone exhibit opened on May 4 and will continue to be displayed until June 1 in the Barbara A. Kieft Accelerator ArtSpace and Founders Lounge.