'Autumn Leaves' enhances library

September 10, 2014
"Autumn Leaves" by Janice K. Johnson
Untitled, JeaHun Jung
"A Metaphor for the Acquisition of Knowledge" by Laura Grotjan
"Equality for All"
“A Blank Page: Portrait of Edgar G. Doudna" by Robert Jinkins

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Platteville student artwork has been so well received throughout the campus community that four additional pieces were recently installed in the university’s Elton S. Karrmann Library. Funding for these public art pieces was provided through a grant from UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement, a campus-wide initiative that supports experiential learning for students. All artwork was installed by UW-Platteville Facilities Management staff.

“Autumn Leaves,” a tile mural, was created by Janice K. Johnson from Mineral Point, Wis., who was enrolled in UW-Platteville Senior Art Lecturer Bruce Howdle’s Public Space and Public Art course last spring. To create the mural, Johnson scanned an 18-inch by 24-inch watercolor she painted of her neighbors’ maple trees into Photoshop, increased its size to 3-feet by 4-feet, divided the image into numbered sections, then used the university’s new ceramic decal printer to digitally print them onto special decal paper able to receive ceramic toner. She then applied the paper to 6-inch tiles and fired them to make the images permanent. The mural was installed on the main floor of Karrmann Library.

An untitled, 67-inch by 42-inch drawing of a young male student and other students climbing a mountain of books toward a light and stars at the mountain’s apex was created by JeaHun Jung, a sophomore fine arts major from South Korea. According to Jung, the mountain of books symbolizes the multitude of educational resources available to students at the library while the light and stars symbolize the knowledge that students are aspiring to attain. The university contracted Scott Hendrix, a former UW-Platteville student, to build a frame to enhance and protect the drawing. The large, framed drawing was installed on the third floor of Karrmann Library.

“A Metaphor for the Acquisition of Knowledge,” an oil painting of a surreal landscape featuring an anthropomorphic apple tree and its human-faced fruit, was created by Laura Grotjan, a senior fine arts major from Neenah, Wis. The piece explores the traditional symbolism of the apple representing knowledge and love. Each small, hybrid individual will eventually grow into something sturdy and wise, and the intertwining branches and twigs represent the connectivity of living creatures. All of the faces within the piece are based on close friends of the artist, many of whom also attend UW-Platteville. The painting was installed on the third floor of Karrmann Library.

“Equality for All,” a 12-foot by 6-foot quilted wall hanging, was created by 14 students in Senior Art Lecturer Carole Spelić’s Crafts I: Fibers and Fabrics course last spring. Using the equals sign as imagery, each student was invited to select any fiber-based material and technique to create his or her individual 2-foot by 2-foot panel. The squares all adhere to the same format, but are very different from each other – knitted squares about quilted squares, which are right next to squares made from old garments. “Students embraced the idea that – like themselves – the squares are in a sense the same, yet each is unique,” said Spelić.

Students in Spelić’s class included Brittany Ambers, Jordan Ball, Rikki Ballweg, Amanda Coffren, Dawn Coffren, Hannah Diederich, Brittney Hendricks, Ann Johns, Sara Pearson, Hailey Petri, Carrie Robbins, Andrew Sedgwick, Joshua Videen and Erin Wessels. The quilt was installed just inside the south entry of Karrmann Library.

“A Blank Page: Portrait of Edgar G. Doudna,” a two-panel mural of Edgar G. Doudna, a graduate of UW-Platteville who obtained state and national prominence in education, was created by Robert Jinkins, who graduated from UW-Platteville with a bachelor’s degree in fine art in spring 2014 and is from Rewey, Wis. The mural was designed as a companion piece to the Ralph E. Davis piece that Jinkins created for Bridgeway Commons – made with the same materials and in the same style, with repeating plywood panels. The mural was installed in Doudna Hall this summer.

Late this fall, three metal and ceramic sculptures created by John O’Sullivan, a senior business administration major from Stewartville, Minn., will be installed between the Art Building and the Center for the Arts. His sculptures are mixed media sculptures that feature ceramic faces or masks combined with a base. Each face has its eye sockets open to give the viewer the concept of seeing the world through another’s eyes. Each face was molded off someone O’Sullivan knew and he constructed the bases with his or her personality in mind. This summer, O’Sullivan helped with art classes at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, Ill., in a PACCE-funded internship.

“Bruce and I are grateful to the PACCE program for its support of these extraordinary opportunities for student artists,” said Spelić. “They give students real-world experience in the public art process – from conception through planning, presentation of proposal, developing and adhering to timelines, working with the facilities designer and campus planner, creating and finally installing the artwork. Without the PACCE grant, we simply couldn’t have students take on projects of this scale and complexity.”

“These are all great opportunities for students to create timeless works of art that enhance the beauty of university buildings,” Howdle said. “The pieces express the students’ individuality and bring beauty and meaning to public spaces. They also can be included in their art portfolios, which will help them obtain employment or acceptance into graduate or art school.”

Contact: Bruce Howdle, department of performing and visual arts, (608) 342-1228, howdleb@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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