The Gustavian Weekly

Beck Academic Hall gives Gustavus artists its walls | The Gustavian Weekly

By Tram Bui Staff Writer | September 30, 2011 | Variety

Lisa Manthe, Class of 1987 “High Heels” Acrylic on Canvas. Allison Kieley

Lisa Manthe, Class of 1987 “High Heels” Acrylic on Canvas. Allison Kieley

While walking down the halls of the new Beck Academic Building, one might notice how the building is home to a rather eclectic collection of art and a yearbook timeline.

Although inspired by the Sesquicentennial, the yearbook timeline on the first level of Beck adds another touch of interest to the building.

A collage of photos from the past and present adorn the wall, and the cases of displayed artifacts help to educate the Gustavus community about the history of the college. The aesthetic decisions made in Beck Academic Hall have come to help illuminate this celebratory year at Gustavus.

Individually,  the pieces of art were created by different artists, developed in separate mediums and have wildly diverse inspirations. The cohesive, unifying factor to the pieces that they were all made by Gustavus’ own alumni and faculty.

Susan M. Davies-Polzine, Class of 1982 “Evensong II” Oil on Canvas. Allison Kieley

When allotting funds for the Beck Academic Building, a designated budget was put aside for the purchase of art pieces. Barb Larson Taylor, alumnus and assistant to the president for special projects, was put into contact with Corporate Art Force, a Minneapolis based company designed to work with businesses and individuals to select artwork that aligns with their brand’s mission, values and vision.

The pieces of art typically purchased from the company come from a variety of artists and art vendors. With the design of the new building in mind, however, Gustavus decided to take a different approach to selecting artwork. They collaborated with Corporate Art Force to select the works of art that would best represent the Gustavus community by featuring the artists most close to home.

“We wanted to choose art purposefully,” Larson Taylor said. “By choosing with intention, we can visually communicate to the campus and beyond what our school brand embodies with the purpose of making your life count.”

Once the decision was made to showcase alumni and faculty work, the process of choosing which artists and what pieces to showcase fell in line. Each contributor on the board in charge of choosing the artwork for Beck recommended a list of faculty and alumni. They then approached the artists over the  summer and purchased their individual works.

Because the board and Corporate Art Force collaborated on the project Associate Professor and Chair in the Art and Art History Department Priscilla Brigg said, “[Gustavus benefited from having] a more objective eye on presenting art on campus.”

“The best part of it all is that it showcases what the faculty works on and what Gustavus graduates went on to create. It is an example of the school investing in its students and faculty.”

“ [It gave us] a few opportunities to show a proposal for selecting pieces that speak to each other in terms of grandiosity and beauty. The juxtaposition of the art was very well done and the thematic links work,” Director of the Hillstrom Museum and Instructor in Art and Art History, contributor Don Myers said.

He also hopes the project will inspire art around other departments on campus.

“We love those kind of cross disciplines and phenomena,” Myers said. “Gustavus has a thriving art scene. Art on campus is very exciting and something everyone should partake in.”

Kristen Lowe, Gustavus Faculty “Forming Nest I, II and III” Charcoal on Paper. Allison Kieley