Art at Wassaja Hall

"The title of this artwork, The Long Way Home, refers to Wassaja’s incredible personal journey and to the home-away-from-home that Wassaja Hall will offer to generations of Illinois students a century after Wassaja himself walked the campus." -Lynn Basa

Installation Honors Wassaja's Story

As part of the State of Illinois’ Art-in-Architecture program, Wassaja Hall features a public art installation that reflects and celebrates the legacy of the hall's namesake. Wassaja Hall opens in fall 2016.

Illinois artist Lynn Basa was selected to create the work, which she has titled "The Long Way Home." Read Basa's artist's statement for a description of the artwork and explanation of the cultural and historical significance. 

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"The Long Way Home" - Artist's Statement 

Wassaja’s life path was challenging and unconventional, yet he navigated it with intelligence and a moral compass that led him to the University of Illinois and then back full circle to his native land. The title of this artwork, The long Way Home, refers to Wassaja’s incredible personal journey and to the home-away-from-home that Wassaja Hall will offer to generations of Illinois students a century after Wassaja himself walked the campus.

The basket shapes are meant to represent the stages of Wassaja’s life and are based on a traditional Yavapai basket design.

The baskets are made of weathering steel and will be internally lit at night to act as beacons leading to the entrance of the residence hall. The pattern cut into the steel has been deliberately kept simple as a way of respecting that the symbols found on Yavapai artwork belong only to them.

The baskets grow larger the closer one gets to the residence hall, representing the strength Wassaja gained along the path of his life. The scale of the basket sculptures ranges from 6’ (smallest), 8’ (middle), 12’ (largest).

The path functions symbolically and as a composition that can be seen from the windows of the residence hall rooms.

The stone will be sourced from the southwestern U.S. in the region where Wassaja was born and where he returned as a healing doctor to fight for Native American land rights.

The materials are raw and rustic in order to convey the aesthetic of the Southwest in honor of Wassaja. The stone and weathering steel are deliberately in contrast with the institutional architecture of the University of Illinois. Wassaja was a stranger in a strange land who adapted and survived without losing his identity.