Heart for Havel moved to Alexandroff Campus Center

Source: The Columbia Chronicle www.columbiachronicle.com / By Andrea Salcedo /

A heart-shaped WAX, sculpture honoring late Czech President Václav Havel stood in the lobby of Film Row Cinema at the Conaway Center, in the 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Building on May 2, beginning its citywide tour.

Faculty, staff and students admired former Czech President Václav Havel’s heart-shaped sculpture outside Film Row Cinema auditorium in the 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Building after a discussion and screening on May 2.

The sculpture, made up of candle wax from his 2011 memorial, is scheduled to tour the city next year and will be showcased in the Alexandroff Campus Center, located at 600 Michigan Ave., for the next two months in celebration of what would have been Havel’s 80th birthday.

Sculptors Lukáš Gavlovský and Roman Švejda constructed the heart from the candles thousands of Czechs lit in public to honor Havel’s memory.

The sculpture was shaped after a heart, a symbol often associated with Havel after his death.

Havel’s colleague and friend Ambassador Martin Palouš led a discussion about the documentary “Life According to Václav Havel,” directed by Andrea Sedlackova, which was screened that evening.

The documentary followed Havel’s life and rise as a leader at a time that the country, then known as Czechoslovakia,was under Communist rule. Palouš said the monument is a moving example of the great regard for Havel that exists in what later became the Czech Republic, shortened in April to Czechia.

Havel, a Czech writer and political leader who helped his country shake off communist rule, died in December of  2011. Born to a middle-class family, he gave up his privileges to work on plays and essays that criticized his country’s regime. Havel served 14 years as president and another five years in and out of prison.

Also in attendance at the event were President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim, Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden, faculty and students.

“We honor [Václav Havel] for his humanitarianism, his political activism, personal courage and for his commitment advancing democracy,” Kim said. “We are proud to hold him up to our students and all members of our community as a model of transformative leadership.”

The Business & Entrepreneur-ship Department’s “International Arts Management” class worked to organize and promote the event with faculty Monika Jaiswal-Oliver, an academic manager, and assistant professor Sandra Kumorowski.

“[The class] is about arts and what an artist did to [rise] up to the occasion of oppression,” Jaiswal-Oliver said. “It was a complete blend of what we do here [at Columbia], learning about our culture and sustaining the arts.

World leaders including the Dalai Lama, President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama visited Havel during and after his presidency. Kumorowski, who is originally from the Czech Republic, said the class became a collaborative effort between Columbia and the Consulate of the Czech Republic.

“[The event] is helping our community to become more conscious in terms of cultural and global events that should really become part of our education because it will make us better global citizens,” Kumorowski said.