By: Kate Luce
Linda Freel was best known as an artist and an educator at IU South Bend. However, to many others, she was a mentor, a colleague and a friend.
Freel attended Bethel University for a bachelor’s degree in Education. After, she received her M.F.A at Notre Dame and a master’s in Education from IU South Bend. She has been an educator since she was 21, but she has spent the last 12 years of her life teaching many art classes at IU South Bend.
Freel was not just an educator, but a very active artist throughout the community. Her drawings and paintings often depicted plants and wildlife throughout the area. Often, she drew outside for reference.
“Linda was a friend and colleague of mine for many years. Although she taught classes in graphic design as well, drawing and painting is where she really shined and loved to teach, and her instruction in that area was of real value to our program. Linda was there for me while I was on leave last spring, not only taking over my classes but also as a friend,” said Ron Monsma, Associate Professor of Fine Arts.
“She was a good colleague, she always participated in the faculty exhibition and the scholarship Art Sale. She made beautiful work. She was encouraging and a valuable mentor to drawing and painting students,” said Susan Moore, Department Chair of Fine Arts.
She encouraged her drawing class to find inspiration in the landscape. Freel encouraged her students to think critically within the parameters of each assignment. Upper level students were encouraged to create work that resonated with them.
Many former students have been particularly impacted by Freel.
Julia Kanestrom, BFA ‘20, is raising money for a memorial fund to raise $80 for 10 trees to be planted in Michigan, where Freel used to live.
“Nature was one of the few topics we could both identify with. I believe this small gesture of planting memorial trees to celebrate her life would help solidify our bond, the bond she grew with others and be a living testament of what she loved most,” Kanestrom said.
To donate, Kanestrom has set up a Venmo, “@Julia-Kanestrom.” Anyone interested in donating has until Sept. 26 to do so.
“She was a talented artist and instructor, who always held her students to the highest standards.
She will be missed,” Monsma said.