Family with Dog Sculpture Dedicated

From left, Scott Joslin, Stevie Joslin, artist Boaz Vaadia, Jim Joslin '93 and Jill Joslin pose with the sculpture dedicated in memory of Roger Joslin.

Sept. 22, 2015 

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The Family with Dog sculpture now has a permanent home on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University.

The sculpture is a gift to Illinois Wesleyan in memory of the late Roger Joslin, who died in 2014. Joslin was the retired chief financial officer and vice chairman of State Farm Insurance and a longtime Illinois Wesleyan trustee. Family with Dog was dedicated Sept. 22 in a ceremony attended by Roger’s wife, Stephany “Stevie” Joslin, her children Scott, Jill and Jim ’93, and the work’s sculptor Boaz Vaadia of Brooklyn, New York.

Family with Dog was one of the six large-scale sculptures on loan to Illinois Wesleyan during a year-long exhibition on the Eckley Quadrangle, which ended in May 2015.

“Everyone had his or her favorite,” President Richard F. Wilson recalled of the exhibition’s early days, “but Family with Dog was a clear winner in terms of popularity.” The sculpture is a favorite spot for photos during Family Weekend and other events, Wilson added. 

Speaking at the dedication, Stevie Joslin recalled she and her husband had discussed making another contribution of some type to Illinois Wesleyan. In early summer 2014 Wilson’s wife, Pat, invited Stevie Joslin to lunch at the President’s Home. After lunch the women viewed the six pieces on loan to the University.

“I was blown away by the beauty and enhancement that these pieces added to the campus,” Joslin recalled. “When Pat and I walked by Family with Dog, I thought to myself, ‘this is it.’ That afternoon I told Roger I had found the perfect gift for Illinois Wesleyan. And he told me we’d do whatever I wanted. Two weeks later, he passed.”

Sculptor Boaz Vaadia, with Pat and President Richard F. Wilson, said he will now always be connected to Illinois Wesleyan through his artwork.

In terms of the intrinsic appeal of the sculpture and its location facing the Joslin Atrium, “I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to Roger,” said Wilson. “Today we celebrate Roger’s life and thank his family for their generosity and continuing support for Illinois Wesleyan.”

Wilson noted that Vaadia creates sculptures that are “contemplative and serene, and that offer a warm and welcoming presence. I believe these characteristics are what attracted all of us to Family with Dog.”

In this particular work, Vaadia noted parallels in the characteristics of sedimentary rock and layering stones on top of each other in his design of Family with Dog. In depicting the connectivity of the family, Vaadia said viewers should look at the sculpture from the back. Through the use of a one-armed hug, Vaadia uses one layer of stone to connect the woman to the man.

“The hug is an emotional connection but also a physical connection,” Vaadia said. “The same is true of the child where the layers between the legs of the mother and the child are one layer.

“The piece reflects the values, for me, of what a family is,” he added.

Vaadia said he will be connected to Illinois Wesleyan for the rest of his life. “It is wonderful to see my sculpture Family with Dog find a family and a home at Illinois Wesleyan,” he added. “What happens between the viewer and my work is where the magic of art exists. To know that this piece will offer that on a continuous basis for many generations to come, where every visitor who looks at my work will have their own unique experience, that is the where the magic of art happens.”