Students celebrate agriculture through art

May 2, 2016
Marking Pioneer Farm artwork

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Twenty University of Wisconsin-Platteville students are creating artwork to celebrate the agricultural nature and landscape of the region as well as the history of the university’s Pioneer Farm, a 430-acre farm that provides quality education, research and outreach opportunities while promoting the agriculture industry.

To create their artwork, students are using a variety of media, including felting, tile mosaic, ceramic relief, quilting and mixed media. Pieces reflect historical viewpoints of the Pioneer Farm, images of Pioneer Farm in the landscape, components of farming, the importance of the cow in agriculture and much more.

Students are creating the artwork as part of two courses, Public Space and Public Art, taught by Bruce Howdle, senior art lecturer at UW-Platteville, and Crafts I: Fiber and Fabrics, taught by Carole Spelic', senior art lecturer at UW-Platteville.

Public Space and Public Art is a studio art course focused on the study of contemporary art in public spaces with particular attention to the role of the artist in creating public art. Studio work for the course requires students to prepare a site-specific public art installation including drawing, photography, scaled model making and/or digital processes, culminating in the production of temporary or permanent site-specific work for installation on campus or in the community.

Crafts I: Fiber and Fabrics is an art course focused on construction using fiber and fabrics; fabric making and decorating; weaving; printing; and related media.

The idea for students creating artwork for Pioneer Farm came from Dr. Tera Montgomery, associate professor of dairy and animal science in the School of Agriculture at UW-Platteville, several years ago.

“Animals and agriculture have always inspired people – to slow down, to be more creative, to see the beauty in nature,” said Montgomery. “Having seen art and other creative endeavors enhance the space in other areas of our campus, I felt like tapping into this vast resource of talented students was a win-win. The students get to showcase their art and the many people who utilize and visit the farm get the benefit of experiencing the farm in a more fulfilling way with the art on display. I am so excited that this idea is finally coming to fruition.”

“Public art, when done well, contributes to a distinctive sense of place,” said Howdle. “Public art created by individual students, or teams of students, works to raise recognition of the arts, both on- and off-campus. Public art courses provide students with significant real-world accomplishments.”

“My students are charged with applying their knowledge of a number of fiber art techniques to a focused, finite public art project,” said Spelic'. “Figuring out how best to execute their portion of a larger, collaborative image is a challenge that they enjoy – and they are always successful.”

Students in Howdle’s class include: Chelsae Hill, Anna Jenson, Katelyn Kieler, Holly Nygaard and Elizabeth Schulz.

Students in Spelic'’s class include: Leisha Abel, Charity Church, Heather Cihak, Oliver Clason, Luke Duncan, Jessica Ellenbecker, Scout Harrison, Marissa Helgesen, Sarah Hogan, Janice Kuhn, Nicole LaFave, Benjamin Lewis, Robin Murphy, Melanie Nanke and Katie Wingert.

The artwork will be displayed in the Agriculture Technology Center and the front entrance to the free stall barn at Pioneer Farm as well as in Russell Hall at UW-Platteville.

The artwork project is funded by the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement, a transformative initiative for the campus-wide coordination, integration and leadership of community-based scholarship of engagement at UW-Platteville. Funding for PACCE is through a partnership of students, university, alumni and community members. PACCE projects are designed to enhance the community as well as provide students with hands-on service learning opportunities that allow them to incorporate classroom learning with projects and programs in a business or organization in the community.

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities, and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. The students' art projects align with the priority of providing an outstanding education.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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