- Jack Olson Gallery
About the Jack Olson Gallery
We bring thought-provoking exhibitions to the northern Illinois region and provide an exhibition venue for the latest creative efforts of our students and professionals. We also provide an extensive lecture series featuring visiting artists and scholars. The Jack Olson Gallery and Annette and Jerry Johns Student Art Gallery serve as a cultural center for the visual arts that serves the campus community and the region. We are pleased to provide this programming to the public free of charge in an accessible building.
About Professor Jack Olson
In 1968, Professor Jack Olson and a number of other new faculty members joined the art education faculty at NIU, under the direction of department head Jack Arends. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, art education had the largest number of majors among the department's undergraduate degree options. Before he came to NIU, Olson was director of art for the West Orange Public Schools in New Jersey.
Olson was also a practicing painter. Soon after his arrival at NIU, he established an active presence in the Chicago art scene, exhibiting his works in various venues on a regular basis. Because of his interest in studio art, he was permitted to shift his teaching emphasis from art education to painting and drawing in 1977-78. He also took on the part-time responsibilities of director for Gallery 200.
Olson worked closely with undergraduate and graduate students. He received NIU's Excellence in Teaching Award in 1990 as a tribute to the high esteem with which he was held by both students and colleagues. He retired from the university in the spring of 1994.
During the winter of 1994-95, Olson learned that he was suffering from advanced cancer. He died in DeKalb on July 28, 1995, having made the decision to forego extraordinary medical treatment. His wife and loving companion, Eleanor, died of cancer in November of the same year. In their memory, they established a generous scholarship endowment for the School of Art and Design.
Rise: Symbols of Protest
2018 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit, Exhibits and Printed Materials
Easy as Pie
2017 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit, Exhibits
Focus: Sabbatical Exhibition
2016 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit, Publications
Strange Days: Vinyl Aesthetics of the Psychedelic Era
2016 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit, Exhibits
Graffiti Imagery in Contemporary Art
2015 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit, Publications
2015 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit, Exhibits
Tagged: Exploring Modern Graffiti
2013 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit, Exhibits
Inked: Tattoo Imagery in Contemporary Art
2012 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Superior Achievement, Exhibit and Scholarly Publication
Tattoo: An American Evolution
2011 Illinois Association of Museums Award of Excellence in the Exhibits Category
Crafting Maya Identity
2010 Illinois Association of Museums Superior Achievement, Exhibit and Scholarly Publication