Firefighters save photographs, art work after Marian University fire

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs and dozens of student art collections were saved after a fire inside Marian University’s Fisher Hall.

On Tuesday, 24-Hour News 8 learned not a single piece was destroyed. Firefighters went the extra mile Monday night to save the art. They went into the gallery and took every painting and piece of art off the wall and put it in plastic so it wouldn’t get wet. Other than a little smoke damage, none of it was destroyed.

“Thank God nobody got hurt. Touch wood. We all survived this stuff,” said Marian Professor Bill Foley.

Foley surveyed his office over and over making sure his pictures were not damaged.

“There’s 30 years-worth of work in this room.” he said.

Foley is an award-winning photographer and all of his work is inside his Fisher Hall office.

“Negatives, prints, slides, so 30 years worth of work,” he said.

All of it almost went up in smoke on Monday night. A fire started in the ceiling right outside Foley’s office.

“Inches from the ceiling where there is no roof,” he said.

The building is now off limits to students.

When 24-Hour News 8 first met sophomore Alyee Willets, she had no idea if her painting was damaged.

“It’s made of wax, it has a lot of layers and it’s my favorite piece of art I’ve ever created,” Willets said.

Her painting is called: View Through The Willow Vine.

“It’s amazing. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it,” she said.

Marian University bought the painting as part of their permanent collection. Willets and several art students went looking for the rescued art and learned some works were moved to Oldenburg Hall.

“Your painting survived! As did Becca’s,” said Dr. Janie Higgs, Professor of Art & Art History.

“It’s just not a piece of work, it’s a piece of your soul so it’s really an emotional, an experience,” Willets said.

Back at Fisher Hall, Foley says he is thankful.

“God love them; the fire department covered everything,” he said.

Foley said his collection is more than work. It’s his life.

“There’s no way to predict. You can’t predict yourself from everything…trust me,” he said.

Construction workers were out Tuesday afternoon putting up tarps to protect the building from the elements. There’s no word on when the building will be reopened.

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