Dutch-American visual artist Lara Schnitger (Haarlem, 1969) was commissioned to create the artwork Alma Mater Carolina, named after the text in the Rectors' chain. The work portrays thirty female professors, nominated from all faculties. Schnitger uses a special technique for this. She places stencils on linen canvasses, which she then sprays with bleach so that the portraits appear on the canvasses. From the colour of each canvas, you will be able to identify the faculty to which that particular professor belonged.
The 30 portraits will hang in chronological order on the four canvas-clad walls of the Senate Hall. The 57 portraits of Rectores Magnifici currently adorning the walls will hang, likewise chronologically, between the new portraits. This will involve removing them from their frames. Aside from the portraits, the letters of the Rector’s chain and the symbols of each faculty will also feature in the artwork. Spaces will also deliberately be left empty on the walls, partly to leave room for new portraits to be added in the years to come and partly so that visitors can project their own university dreams onto the artwork.
Schnitger is known for this kind of artworks in which various visual and applied arts blend with the interior. Her work is accessible, modern and timeless, visually inviting and appealing, bright and cheerful, with a clear social message. ‘I feel challenged by the tradition of the Senate Hall and the painted portraits, and see this as a great opportunity to give the place a fresh and contemporary appearance,’ Schnitger says of the commission.
Schnitger’s work is represented in the collections of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Saatchi Gallery London and Carnegie Museum of Art Pittsburgh, among others. She has also participated in renowned exhibitions such as those at The High Line New York, Sonsbeek 2008, The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo and the Bonnefanten in Maastricht.