A Heart for Václav Havel Comes to Columbia College Chicago

Photo: Phil Dembinski (BFA '08)
Consulate General of the Czech Republic to present sculpture and commemorate Havel's life and work.

On Monday, May 2, Columbia College Chicago will be honored with the presentation of A Heart for Václav Havel, a wax sculpture created after Czech President Václav Havel’s death in 2011, from the Consulate General of the Czech Republic. The sculpture will tour the city over the next year and Columbia will be its first host. 

The event will take place at Film Row Cinema from 6-9 p.m. and will begin with remarks from President Kwang-Wu Kim, Provost Stanley Wearden, and Consul General of the Czech Republic Bořek Lizec. Close colleague and friend to Havel, Ambassador Martin Palouš will lead the audience in a discussion after a screening of Life According to Václav Havel, a documentary directed by Andrea Sedláčková.

“Columbia is honored to host this important event,” says Wearden. “Václav Havel was a great leader for democracy, freedom and human rights, not only in the Czech Republic but on the world stage as well. A Heart for Václav Havel is a moving sculpture that has redefined the notion of public art by using wax from many thousands of candles burned in Havel’s memory.”

Formed by artists Lukáš Gavlovský and Roman Švejda, the sculpture’s tour begins at Columbia. It was first presented to the city during Prague Days Chicago 2015 at City Hall. Columbia will host the sculpture until June 30, 2016 in 600 S. Michigan Ave. 

“Chicago has played a key role in the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. The special relationship between Czechs and Chicago continues to exist today thanks to the many friends we have here," says Lizec. "The activities of Columbia are a prominent example and I am very grateful to Columbia for not only hosting the presentation of the legacy of one of the most important Czechs in history, President Václav Havel, but also for its continued and strong support of the Czech Republic.” 

A writer turned dissident, Havel completed 19 plays, six books of poetry and nine essay collections, including his iconic piece, “The Power of the Powerless,” which circulated in underground editions before it was published during one of his multiple arrests.  

Founder and leader of the Civic Forum, a political movement which called for the resignation of leading Communists and the release of political prisoners, Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia until the Velvet Revolution in 1989, when he then became the first president of the newly democratic Czech Republic. 

“As a Columbia faculty and a Czech native, I am excited for this important collaboration that signifies and promotes cultural diversity,” says Business and Entrepreneurship Assistant Professor Sandra Kumorowski. “Events as such teach our students and communities to be conscious, global citizens.” 

In the year that would have marked his 80th birthday, the event is part of Havel@80, which celebrates the life and work of Havel through theater, lectures, articles, films, discussions, and exhibitions.

Kumorowski adds, “Vaclav Havel together with his wife, Olga Havlova, have become the symbols of a free-thinking, democratic society, with the power to inspire positive changes in the world.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Consulate General of the Czech Republic.