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Donor profile: Artist Louise McCagg

Louise lives and works in New York City but has stayed connected to MSU through friends and their art.

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Artist Louise McCagg (M.F.A., ’71) has been a steadfast supporter of the arts at Michigan State University. She is particularly passionate about the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. “I think it is just fabulous that there is going to be a beautiful museum designed by an outstanding architect, at Michigan State,” McCagg said. “It will be a powerful magnet for the arts. Keats might be old-fashioned but he said it well:

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness...”
Louise graduated from Barnard College with a degree in English Literature; then moved with her children to East Lansing, where her husband, the late William O. McCagg, Jr., served on the MSU faculty directing the Russian and East European History program. She joined the MSU graduate program in Sculpture, studying with James Lawton and Bob Weill. Her interest in bronze sculpture grew as MSU developed its program in lost wax casting. She completed her master’s degree; then, with help from her husband, and an artist friend Tom Young, she constructed a 30-foot geodesic dome as her studio and then, within it, built a Foundry. There, she cast, among other works, her life-size “Beatrice,” an aluminum sculpture suspended in circular aura. “Beatrice” can be found in the Wharton Center, thanks to a donation to the University by Truman Woodruff in memory of his wife, Lydia.
Louise lives and works in New York City but has stayed connected to MSU through friends and their art. In 1999, she cast a bronze sculpture, now installed near City Hall in East Lansing. Called “Familiar Faces,” it represents 38 life masks reduced to half size, of local artists and supporters of the arts in the East Lansing area.
Louise merges her literary interests with her tactile art: for example, her work “Vorkuta Poems.”  Hungarian poet Sara Karig wrote poems in her head for the 12 years she was in Vorkuta, a Soviet Union concentration camp in Siberia. Years later, McCagg cast Sara Karig’s mask in paper and made a pocket in the forehead for a miniature book of those poems–well aware that it is behind the forehead where all thoughts, poems, and inventions are thought to be generated. This art can be found at Yale University Libraries in its special collections.  
Louise’s art has been exhibited widely, in galleries and museums from Seattle to New York, Germany, Hungary and Japan. She occasionally has shown her work back in the East Lansing area.
Many of her recent works have been collaborative projects with other artists, including choreographers and composers. One of her most recent collaboration is with Peter Forgacs, a renowned Hungarian artist, who received the honor of representing Hungary in this year’s Venice Bienalle. He has included Louise’s work in this exhibition.
Louise is looking forward to seeing the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. As of early June 2009, more than 28.3 million has been raised toward the $40 million goal. MSU will break ground on the iconic structure in March 2010, followed immediately by 23 months of construction and a 2012 museum opening. The Pritzker Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid designed the museum.
For more information on the Broad Art Museum, visit online at For information on making a gift to the museum, contact Director of Development Bridget Paff at (517) 353-4725.