Brother Joe was ahead of his time. To envision a place where different art forms meet was pretty progressive in the 1970s, but to have made it his lifelong mission and inspired generations to keep going – that’s what makes him visionary.
As a LASALLE student in the 1990s and pioneering staff member of the Marketing and Corporate Communications departments, I witnessed the College’s formative years from the Goodman to McNally campuses until I left as Marketing Director in 2010.
When I applied to join LASALLE as a student in 1993, it was Brother himself, then Principal, who reviewed my portfolio with a kind and reassuring voice, making no fuss about my poor Maths grades. I was accepted, unaware that years later, I would be working across his studio to encourage current and future Lasallians in their creative pursuits.
I remember sitting at one of our school assemblies as a sceptical teenager, baffled by Brother’s speech on the “infinite possibilities” of the arts and technology. Later, the fine arts and music majors were paired up to experiment on paintings inspired by sound, and sound inspired by paintings. The resulting exhibition was hardly groundbreaking by today’s standards, but looking back, Brother was pointing us towards the infinite possible outcomes when different creative disciplines meet.
Throughout the years at Goodman, Brother made time for us – in our studios and at every open house, orientation, graduation show and convocation ceremony. After retirement, his presence continued on the board, at College events and in his on-campus studio. At one of the partnership degree shows, Brother – by then President Emeritus – whispered to my boss and I, “Why is LASALLE still not offering its own degrees?” It was a vigilant reminder to be ahead of our time.
In his lifetime, Brother fought for the arts to gain support for our College. One life gathering many lives to bring us here – at the forefront of an alliance with the University of the Arts Singapore, 40 years after our founding and 100 years after his birth, enabled by an enduring vision of limitless possibilities that we live and breathe as Lasallian alumni, educators and students.