School Sisters Of St. Francis Welcome New Alfons Gallery Director

Alverno College’s Valerie J. Christell honors the community’s artistic legacy
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July 5, 2012 - PRLog -- Milwaukee, WI, July 5, 2012 – Alfons Gallery, a ministry of the School Sisters of St. Francis, has named Valerie J. Christell its new director and curator.  Ms. Christell is Adjunct Professor in the Art Department at Alverno College, where she’s taught for 14 years and will continue teaching advanced levels of Studio Art and Art History.  

Ms. Christell succeeds Sister Barbaralie Stiefermann, who has retired after serving as the gallery’s director since 2001.

Ms. Christell is a professional artist herself and exhibits in juried, group and invitational shows. She also has been a feature arts writer for Milwaukee’s Third Coast Digest online publication, acts as juror for area art exhibitions and is a Milwaukee Artist Resource Network mentor.

In her personal visual expression, Ms. Christell works in photomontage, collaboration and installation art to create social statements focusing on human interactions with others and their environments.  “The foundation of my work is genocide—the Holocaust, in particular—and environmental events that continue to impact our world,” she said.  

She’s enthusiastic about the current direction of Alfons Gallery.

“The most exciting aspect of the gallery is the potential for raising awareness and changing lives through the arts,” she said. “The School Sisters of St. Francis’ global mission of art, culture, peace and justice coincides what I’ve been expressing through my own artwork as well as in the courses I teach at Alverno.  Overall, I believe it’s essential to make connections to history as well as current events in order to effectively understand, exist in, and impact our world.

“I was pleased to be able to curate Alfons Gallery’s current exhibit, ‘Artists, Art and Empowering,’ which kicks off Alverno’s 125th anniversary celebrations with artwork by past and current faculty.  The exhibition is contextualized because I believe it is essential to provide information about the School Sisters of St. Francis’ visionary role in creating Alverno as well as their understanding of and passion for the ability of the arts to empower its creators and viewers.”

Ms. Christell’s vision for Alfons Gallery reflects her desire to build on the Gallery’s tradition of supporting local artists and the local community.

“In this era of tumultuous local and global events impacting every part of society in a multitude of ways, I aim to reflect the School Sisters’ full mission by presenting exhibitions that reflect local and global art and culture while connecting them to cultural celebrations,” she said. “I also plan to expand the offerings to include installations that speak to peace and justice.  And to reflect and celebrate the School Sister heritage in visual art, music and education, I look to incorporate music within the exhibitions as well as to stage multi-disciplinary opening events and offer related gallery talks and events during the run of the shows.  

“As both artist and teacher, I’ve witnessed the power of the arts to transform students, artists and viewers,” she said. “My artwork expresses my reactions to social issues, so I feel particularly connected to the School Sisters’ vision for and outreach in the world.  I feel privileged to be able to take part in ensuring that their legacy lives on.”

About Alfons Gallery

Since 1992, Alfons Gallery has promoted the School Sisters of St. Francis’ heritage and commitment to the visual arts, providing a venue for the School Sisters and other artists to display their art for the general public to admire and purchase. Exhibits are free and open to the public Wednesday-Friday from noon-3 p.m., Sunday from 1-3 p.m., and by appointment.

Alfons Gallery is located at St. Joseph Center, 1501 S. Layton Blvd. (27th and Greenfield) in Milwaukee. Free parking is available in the lot that is accessible on 29th and Orchard (Alexia Circle entrance).

For more information on Alfons Gallery, please email, call 414-385-5273, or visit the gallery’s website at
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