It started as a simple idea and eventually turned into the Leah Devora painting that is now hanging on the 5th floor wall near the entrance to the Student Lounge. Devora titled the painting “Independence,” but the students involved with the project have deemed the name to be "History of Thomas Jefferson." The plaque to the right of the painting lists the names of those who donated and a brief history about the artist. The painting has a purpose and it has begun a great tradition: The 2011 Class Gift. TJSL Students donated to the cause and we raised the funding to pay for this original work of art. Stated simply, the project was funded solely by students (all 3L's, and one 2L who liked what we were doing).
The project did not come easy. It began with the Student Bar Association (SBA) and we had to figure out what type of gift the class of 2011 wanted, who would create it, how much would it cost and where would it go inside the building. The answers to these questions also did not come easy. Keep in mind that as we were pushing full steam ahead with collecting donations, the building was still under construction and nothing was going on the walls of the building but for a few "Exit" signs and fire escape maps. After gaining the support of the Administration, we met with Professors Joy Delman and Jeff Slattery who provided guidance on where to look for artists and what we might be interested in for the class gift.
The SBA leadership team met with other student leaders and students, who collectively decided that an original work of art in oil or similar format would be our best route in terms of cost, how quickly we needed it and lasting effect. Professor Slattery suggested we make a trip to the annual Art Walk in Little Italy to see some artists. Needless to say, we found our artist and provided her with our ideas and suggestions.
Then came the negotiations with the artist and delivery of the painting. Never having dealt much myself with original works of art, we had to brief ourselves on what to expect in terms of pricing and quality. We negotiated a great price using law school skills and real life skills (mostly the kind heart of the artist who helped us out) and secured the painting by the date we needed (before or soon after the May 2011 graduation). It proved difficult collecting funds, but we made the pitch, stuck with it and, in the end, the last dollar we needed came in right before payment was due to the artist. Instead of paying to ship a costly painting, we drove to Los Angeles (we wanted a California artist to paint the class gift) to pick-up the piece and then delivered it to the law school. Our project was complete.
In closing, the Class of 2011 was the first class to graduate from the new school and we wanted to leave our mark and blaze the trail for the generations of students to come. We wanted this gift to take in aspects of Thomas Jefferson the man, the law school, the Declaration of Independence and more. Take some time to see the painting and the great work the artist has created--there is more to it than meets the eye.
A special thank you to Professors Slattery and Delman, who helped to guide the project along, offering support and ideas. Thank you, also, to the students who made this happen. May this be the beginning of a great tradition for our law school.
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