Art Alumni Group Exhibition

by Luther College Alumni
Kristin-Wigley Fleming Fine Arts Gallery, Center for the Arts
September 14 - October 16, 2011

There will be a Gallery Reception held on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. (following the Homecoming football game). All are welcome.

Luther College Artist Alumni

The year 2011 marks the Sesquicentennial of Luther College and the 75th anniversary of the Art Department.  In celebration, an open invitation was extended to all art alumni and former art faculty to create works inspired by those milestones. Both groups are represented in this show. The exhibit is special in several respects. The 27 works of art on display represent 50 years of history, beginning with work created by members of the class of 1961 and continuing to pieces from those who graduated in 2011. Work was received from alumni in several states, as well as those in England and Australia. Several artists created new work specifically for this exhibit. Together, all of the pieces on display address ways, both subtle and overt, in which personal and collective journeys through Luther College and the Art Department have been transformative.

Artists in this years' Alumni Exhibition include: Wendell Arneson ('68), David Aurelius ('73), Kari J. Berg ('73), Randy Carlson LC '76, Amy (Simpson Jefferson) Christie ('04), Ashley Dull ('05), Douglas Eckheart (Professor Emeritus of Art), Brian Eklund ('00), Linda Elkins (former Art Education instructor), Becky Franklin ('05), Carl Homstad ('73), Beth Papenfuss (‘93), Sarah Frydenland ('05), Emily Gilbertson (’04), Erin Jorgensen ('07), Mavis E. Kjarland ('61), Jack Rothenbuehler ('92), Orville Running (Professor Emeritus of Art/College Artist), Elizabeth Schmidt Gregory ('73), Maggie Schneider ('06), Nikki Sheppard ('11), Jean Svien Aurelius ('74), Kara (Herrbolt) Teske ('07), Linda Wangsness ('73), Larry Welo ('74), Mark Whelan ('02), and Anita Wildermuth ('61).

Artists' Statements

The following is a collection of all of the statements of the artists who provided us with one for the the show. Not all artists mentioned above have provided a statement and therefore do not appear in this section.

Wendell Arneson LC '68

"I am interested in work that resides both in the objective and non-objective worlds. I am equally attracted to the gesture or non-descriptive mark as well as the power and ambiguity of symbol and image. Paintings inhabit a place between the known and the unknown. Art, for me, does not provide answers but rather provokes questions and seeks possibilities.

These paintings use image and symbol to convey the internal. Beginning with an idea derived from memory and/or observation these paintings are an exploration of questions raised through formal investigation and contemplation of the spiritual. I am an image-maker and interested in the juxtaposition of images that, for me, reference time, place, memory, fragility, strength, journey, and hope. Through the process of discovery I seek clarity while honoring mystery and ambiguity.


David Aurelius LC '73

"'Two Ravens- Huginn (Odin's eyes) and Muninn (Odin’s ears) fly around the world to gather news and report back to Odin what they have learned around the world.'

My journey at Luther College started 40 years ago. I came because I was interested in learning to make pottery. I had heard about Luther's pottery department from a neighborhood friend, Peter Deneen. My journey started then and I studied with Dean Schwartz, Orville Running and Doug Eckhart. Later I went on to study with Marguerite Wildenhain and David Stewart at Pond Farm in Guerneville, California.

Jeanne and I started our own pottery studio, Clay Bay Pottery, in Door County 35 years ago. This piece is the culmination of pushing the boundaries of form, decoration, and construction, showing my transformation as an artist over 40 years."


Kari J. Berg LC '73

"To celebrate Luther’s sesquicentennial, the formation of the Art Department seventy-five years later, and to recognize Luther College as the first college started by Norwegian immigrants, I designed and knit a sweater in the traditional Norwegian style. Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum was able to provide me with photos of Norwegian sweaters in their collection from these two time periods. As an added bonus, a pair of socks found in the desk of Laur Larsen, the first President of Luther College, were included in the photos.

I took design elements from these three items and combined them into one sweater. In the process of designing the pattern, selecting the yarn and knitting the sweater, I hope to communicate a visceral connection to Decorah, Luther College and my own heritage.

Thanks to Laurann Gilbertson of Vesterheim for assisting with Norwegian knit articles, and Dale Martin, woodworker, who made the hanger."


Randy Carlson LC '76

"Any medium of expression has its own particular history or “Transformation”. For me, ceramics through its art and science has a special place in the history of culture. It has literally enabled human beings to move up off the ground and has continually lifted them to the moon. The technology of fire and its ability to transform earthen materials into wholly new material has a certain magic that continually draws me to move forward. The ability to take a lump of clay of an undefined, random form and manipulate it into an object and then transform it through the exposure to ire into an object for use or contemplation is the allure for me. I enjoy creating a relationship of form and surface that reflects both the effects of process and intent of the maker. The result being partly my design and partly a result of what happens in the kiln."

(Please visit Randy's solo currently displayed in Preus Library)


Amy (Simpson Jefferson) Christie LC '04

"Something Sparkly and congratulations to the Art Department on their 75th year. May there be many more years of creativity ahead!"


Ashley Dull LC '05

"When invited to create a painting for Luther's sesquicentennial theme, "Transformed by the Journey", I was immediately
drawn to the subject of a path that represents one’s journey of life. Often times when one sees a path, they are enchanted with thoughts of what's over there? What's at the end? When will I get there? How do I get there…? I have felt much the same way as my own life continues to transform, and I paint this illuminating path not to represent a destination, but rather to represent the unfolding of possibilities each new day the journey of life brings. It is a reminder to all to embrace each new day and be open to accepting and growing with the changes that come into our lives; for it is by these experiences we are transformed.


Douglas Eckheart (Professor Emeritus of Art)

(Please visit Doug’s exhibit of campus scenes on display on the lower floor of Preus Library, Sept 29 – Oct 21.)


Brian Eklund LC '00

"These branches were once part of a whole, that being a tree. They fell into the water at some place in the lake. They then
traveled to the place where they were, just to be frozen at a certain time and place during the winter. Weathering and the elements had their toll through out, leaving them like this when the ice started to melt. They were literally transformed by their journey through winter. I chose to title the photo as I did because it was at the end of a harsh winter, as one can tell by the ice and how it is configured around the branches.


Becky Franklin LC '05

"In Native American artifacts, the diamond motif can be seen in butterfly symbolism. On their own, the butterfly symbol (X) most commonly represents transformation, and the diamond symbol (◊) represents immortality. By repeating the diamond shape, butterflies appear XXXXXXXX and new concepts of revitalization and metamorphosis are revealed. This diamond/butterfly basket narrates Luther College's dedication to sustainability through transformation. Sustainability is the major part of Luther's Sesquicentennial Strategic Plan and over the last few years has significantly shaped campus activities, student learning, college operations and development. The basket itself makes a minimal impact on the earth, as it was created with discarded plastic bags and leftover tubing."


Carl Homstad LC '73

"Luther and Decorah are beautiful places. But the weather can be a challenge, especially in the winter. I wanted to do
a picture that represents the strength of Martin Luther, the college and the students in hard times. 'Here I Stand,' even in
the wind and snow.


Sarah Frydenland LC '05

"Through the thin veil of the past we emerge, ‘knocking from the inside’, and recognize the – becoming self."


Erin Jorgensen LC '07

Many tales have more than one meaning. It is important not to reduce understanding to some narrow focus, sacrificing multiplicity to what might be called the rhetoric of merely: merely a dead sheep, only an atavistic ritual, nothing but a metaphor. Openness to peripheral vision depends on rejecting such reductionism and rejecting with it the belief that questions of meaning have unitary answers. Twenty years after it occurred, in a world increasingly troubled by ethnic conflict, a remembered ritual on the Feast of the Sacrifice came to exemplify for me layer upon layer of processes whereby human beings can join and communicate and learn in spite of profound differences . . . A Persian garden has become a magic carpet. The process of spiraling through memory to weave connection out of incident is basic to learning[.]- Mary Catherine Bateson, from Peripheral Visions, 1994


Mavis E. Kjarland LC '61

"A seed, a root, a tree – we overflow with excitement at the possibilities that stretch before us."


Jack Rothenbuehler LC '92

"Art is a passion but it never became my profession, although I do teach art to students with autism. I make art exclusively
for my friends and myself. These days, my sculptural work mostly incorporates found materials such as refuse timber
from building sites, bits of tin or street signs, and I’ve also been exploring different printmaking processes. This piece is the
result of one of those naïve experiments.

The inspiration for this work is pretty obvious. Seventy-five years of art at Luther is impressive, as is the stunning new Center for the Arts, where this celebration is being held.

To commemorate this milestone, I chose to create a piece that celebrates both the history of the department as well as its future. The block itself represents the enduring legacy of all those who have taught or studied at Luther. It was cured from a solid, but worn piece of plywood that had been the top of a mechanic’s bench, which I found discarded behind a
Melbourne garage. The 75 prints represent the interpretation of knowledge gleaned and then passed on over the years. Although the image remains constant, each print was hand-inked and pressed and no two are identical.

(Gallery visitors are invited to take one of the prints as part of Jack’s process.)


Maggie Schneider LC '06

"This piece represents the past five years of my artist journey. My Luther experience gave me the tools and the materials to build my life and career. Luther College is one of the cornerstones of the life I am building. Thank you for sharing the experience."


Nikki Sheppard LC '11

"My artwork aims to deconstruct personal experiences gained through travel, specifically having immersed myself in the lives of others through teaching, observing and serving. The beauty of standing in another’s shoes and seeing a different perspective cultivates and establishes the foundation of my art. By using personal photographs as my source material, my prints have been silk-screened to show a transformative process in the creation of these prints, as well as a transformation of self."


Jean Svien Aurelius LC '74

"My mother graduated from Luther College in 1940. I can truthfully say I was inspired by her and her love for Luther College. As children, we were brought up to love our heritage especially our Scandinavian background from my father's side. Both my sisters, Mary and Suzanne, attended Luther as well and it was here we were reminded again of our strong heritage and the link to the past. My professors' influence on me were great. Gracia Grindall, Doug Eckhart, Orville Running, Lorado Adelman, Dean Schwartz, and Conrad Simonson were wonderful teachers to name a few. I attended Pond Farm with Marguerite Wildenhain and David Stewart, for several summers where my journey continued. David Aurelius and I started Clay Bay Pottery in Door County 35 years ago. We carry several other Luther/grad artists in our gallery. The journey continues and is flourishing. I am very grateful for Luther College and my continued transformation."


Kara (Herrbolt) Teske LC '07

"Flowers are one of my favorite subjects to showcase in my artwork; I love the movement and energy that the lines of lilies, daisies and bluebells can create, just to name a few. In college, I focused on black and white renditions of different blossoms with printmaking techniques; this is where I discovered my love of this theme. Since then, I have started using watercolor pencils to convey color. I do not focus on realism, but rather let the movement of the flowers melt the colors together. I also like to add words to my artwork. I think that this allows the viewer to connect more with my art; it becomes more personal. By adding “Soli Deo Gloria” to this piece, my viewers can feel a connection to Luther College. Or perhaps they will feel a connection to their faith life. I want my viewers to feel as though my pieces could have been created especially for them."


Linda Wangsness LC '73

"My submission to the alumni art show is intended as a remembrance, and to rejoice in the differing teachings and artistic styles explored over the past 75 years of Visual Arts at Luther College.

For many of us, our Professors and 'Art Barn' community have remained lifelong friends. All former Luther College art students will remember the required studies in drawing, painting, printmaking and art history. And for those of us in 'pots,' we worked hard to make our potter 'breathe.' (Right Dean!) Beyond our academic studies, our teachers shared their lives and then the big wide world. Through casual discussions, they encouraged our dreams, hopes, faith and artistic adventures.

I am currently employed as a K-12 art teacher in a small rural community school in north central Iowa, and I hold a Master of Education/Curriculum and Instruction. The quality education I received in my early studies at Luther College has been put to use and I love it!

My students’ favorite course of study is painting. Therefore, I chose one of my still life paintings to hang in this show. I selected a new frame, which looks 75-100 years old, and combined it with my contemporary still life.

2011-2012 CFA Alumni Show