If you crossed paths on the Augsburg campus with history professor Phil Adamo, you would quickly learn of his enthusiasm for the history of the place. You may even hear him share one of the many stories that make Augsburg’s 150-year history so intriguing.
Phil Adamo came to Augsburg in 2001, after completing his PhD in medieval history at The Ohio State University. In 2015, he was named “Minnesota Professor of the Year” for 2015 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the same year he began as Director of Augsburg’s nationally recognized Honors Program. Since 2013, he’s been working with students on a history of Augsburg for its sesquicentennial celebration in 2019.
When asked what made him decide to sponsor a work of art for the Hagfors Center Art and Identity initiative, here is what he said:
“Most people don’t know I’m a bit of an art collector. I go to all the student shows and have purchased student self-portraits and other contemporary art. I’m a fan of art and want to support artists. When I found out about the Art and Identity initiative, I started looking at the portfolio of stories about the artists. In fact, I watched every video story on the various artists.
“I noticed the collection includes work by former campus photographer Stephen Geffre. Stephen and I have worked on several projects together over the years. In my current work, writing the history of Augsburg, Stephen took many of the images I’m using. I’ve also bought some of his photography. Then I found out he is a multi-dimensional artist, working as a sculptor. The piece he’s doing for the Hagfors Center appeals to me because it brings to life something of the College’s past. The elm trees in the quad hold a lot of our history. Continue reading “Historian and Art Sponsor Phil Adamo”→
It makes perfect sense that Terry Lindstrom ’73 and his wife Janet look forward to funding Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO) Summer Research students for the next three years, just as they have since 2013. Lindstrom found his passion while doing undergrad research at Augsburg, and he wants to make sure others have the opportunity that meant so much to him.
“Everyone deserves a passionate career,” says Lindstrom, who in 2010 retired his post as Distinguished Research Fellow at Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, where he spent 31 years doing drug discovery and development.
Like many young Auggies, he had no obvious career path in mind when he first ventured onto the Augsburg campus. He thought he might like to major in science, and Augsburg had a good science department. But would he choose biology? Chemistry? Physics? He wasn’t sure. He was sure of one thing: chemistry was a challenge.
“I loved it, but it was hard,” he says. “Within just a few weeks, it was very clear that the chemistry professors and staff were very personable, approachable, and interested in teaching. Their willingness to help really solidified its appeal for me, although it was still difficult.” By the time he was a senior, he was also doing biochemistry research, isolating a virus in fruit flies, studying the intersection of biology and chemistry in living systems.
“After that, my career was a foregone conclusion. I was fascinated by biochemistry,” says Lindstrom. He was also intrigued by the teaching methods of his chemistry professor, Courtland Agre, who never gave him a straight answer, thus prompting him to find his own. “He’d always push back with another question, an orienting question. It was very frustrating at first, but he was teaching me to think critically. He’d draw it out of you, and you gained confidence. It made an indelible mark on me.”
As much as he loved the sheer fun of learning science, he also realized he wanted to find real-world applications to benefit society. After earning his PhD in pharmacology and biochemistry at the University of Minnesota and completing a biochemistry postdoc at Michigan State University, he joined Eli Lilly. He now holds at least six patents for life-changing drugs, including Evista, for osteoporosis, and Cymbalta, an antidepressant also used to treat bone and muscle pain.
Still enthralled by complex science, Lindstrom is retired only technically; he is busy consulting and advising in numerous capacities. He also volunteers for URGO’s summer program, giving seminars, meeting students, and collaborating with science faculty members such as Assistant Professor Michael Wentzel, Associate Professor Vivian Feng, and Assistant Professor Matt Beckman. He notes
that students are working with PCR (polymerase chain reaction), a DNA synthesizing technique that made headlines not that long ago. “It was state-of-the-art only in the best molecular biology labs in the country, and now it’s actually being taught and done in Matt’s lab,” he says. “I was thrilled to see that.”
By fully endowing several students for URGO’s 10-week program, which costs $5,500 per student, he hopes that they, too, get a chance to discover their passion. “I understand how things take hold. Fundamentals are absolutely essential, but it was the research experience, free of academic book-learning, that convinced me what I wanted to do. If someone wants to test it out and see if it interests them, I’m extraordinarily happy to make that opportunity available.”
Something special happens when three things come together.
Science, business, and religion.
An artist, a group of engaged Augsburg women, and dedicated financial resources.
At least that’s what Lisa Svac Hawks ’85 thinks.
The idea that art will bring lasting inspiration to the new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion motivated Lisa to make the lead gift to help fund one of the two large-scale murals planned for the Center. She and the members of AWE (Augsburg Women Engaged) have set a goal to secure the $150,000 required to fully fund one of the planned stairwell murals.
In designing the new building, HGA’s architects and a team of college leaders set forth a central principle for it: to ensure it considered the neighborhood. The Center must express and reflect the importance of community and hospitality, values that live at the heart of Augsburg’s mission. The Center’s two external stairwells will serve as both beacons and open arms to the community.
These same ideas attracted Lisa and other members of AWE to explore what it would take to support the artist’s installation of one stairwell mural. AWE was founded on the idea that women want to connect and serve in different ways.
“Women think about connection and the social and collaborative nature of learning and living,” says Lisa. “What better way to express those principles than through a mural that is all about connection?” The resulting mural design is titled “Emergence.” It incorporates the image of a monarch butterfly along with references to symbiosis, textile traditions, geometry, faith, home, prayer and identity.
Sponsored by Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE).
Muralist Greta McClain, the artist selected by the Augsburg Art and Identity committee, which is working to bring art into the Center, looked deeply into the challenge of combining three disciplines in one building. In shaping the design for her two stairwell murals she asked, “Do those “conflicting/disparate” ideas, all housed together, stand as a reflection of our community, Cedar Riverside? Are they a dynamic social experiment, and a view our very human experience?”
In McClain’s words, “The collaboration between space and artist, community and construction, can take many forms depending on the project. Inevitably it includes a close collaboration between me as artist, and those closest to the project. Together we gather history, ideas, and images. These conversations are the key to the development of a site/content specific work for the finished mural.” (learn more about Greta McClain). Continue reading “A Stairway to Art and AWE “→
What difference can art make in our experience of spaces and places? Does art add to the learning within a building?
These questions interested both New York City- and Minneapolis-based sculptor Andrea Stanislav and President Paul Pribbenow.
They met through the opportunity to commission a work of art for the Art and Identity initiative at Augsburg. Their answer to these questions, the glass fritting for the new building, will be among the first things you notice when you walk through the doors to the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, in January, 2018.
Delicately transformed light will stream through the three-story curtain of glass in the building atrium and onto a large, warm wood panel wall. Crafted from local elm, the wall offers both a welcoming tone and a tender reminder of many magnificent trees lost to disease including some on the Augsburg quad by Memorial Hall.
The glass fritting design by Stanislav is one of several artist commissions planned for the new building as part of the Art and Identity initiative, which invites sponsorship of original artwork in the new building. The glass design is sponsored with a major gift from President Paul and Abigail Pribbenow. Previously the Pribbenow’s provided major funding to support the Christ Commons initiative.
Stanislav’s conception of the glass fritting for the windows speaks to the Lutheran heritage of Augsburg. By incorporating elements of Martin Luther’s handwritten original musical score for his composition, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, the artist has rendered the original score, reduced and simplified it, and set it with the graceful shapes of cells from the ring of red elm.
According to Stanislav, the hand-written notation speaks to another time and yet reveals itself today in the relevance and power of this hymn. It reflects an evolution of both language and notation with the mark making itself connecting us to Martin Luther the individual while also connecting us to the larger message of the music and the hymn.
Stanislav was attracted to this particular music and notation because Martin Luther’s hand notation is both simple and intriguing. To her eye, it functions as a kind of signature of the founding values of Lutheranism.
“I grew up in the 1970’s in Chicago living with my grandparents who spoke German. I was bilingual until I was 5 or 6 years old. But at the time, my family’s sentiment was to erase our heritage and disconnect from the past. I lost my bilingualism. Then I learned to read music by playing piano and trombone. I discovered to be literate in music is to be literate in another language, a language of the world.”
In considering the request for proposals for the Hagfors Center, the artist drew on time and experience.
“One of my first memories is of the sound of a big tree rustling in the backyard. The sound is so musical. I love the cold of winter and the starkness and beauty of trees, especially their stillness and the way they create a graceful backdrop. When I considered the glass wall fit, I was thinking of the feeling of snow falling. Martin Luther’s notation of the musical notes falls in the same way.”
In considering her design, she said, “The cellular structure between the tree rings reveals the effects of time on growth and development. It shows the motion of music dropping out of the elm.
“I appreciate the clarity and complement of the goals for this building, Plus its location creates an immediacy of experience and a dramatic sense of time.”
Stanislav says, too, that glass itself is an exciting medium. “We live in a time when we must be responsible and sustainable in our making. The ceramic fritting is an important component of the energy savings required for this building to qualify for LEED Silver certification. Sustainability is where my morals and my creating come together.”
As she sees it, “There’s a play between the notes and the elm and they create a push and pull. The cellular structure and the music create a marvelous tension for design. It’s an intimate relationship between them.”
This intimacy will translate into the inspiring space of the Hagfors Center. As the light pours through the glass through the ceramic fit, the individual will see and feel the shapes on and around them.
For President Pribbenow, the combination of elements made sense.
“Music lives at the heart of Lutheranism and in the hearts of Auggies everywhere. When Abigail and I saw the way Andrea had found this remarkable notation by the hand of Martin Luther from 1527 of the great hymn, and the way she connected that image to the shape of cells in the ring of a red elm, we knew we wanted to make our gift to sponsor it.”
The artist is currently working in St. Petersburg, Russia, with the U.S. Consulate on work related to the 900-day Siege of Leningrad in 1941-1943, during which an estimated 1.5 million Russian citizens died. During the siege, art making and cultural production helped sustain the survivors.
“I’m interviewing siege survivors who are now in their 80s and 90s, learning about their will to survive during such terrible conditions.” She’s collecting their stories using interviews, diaries and objects they saved from that time and experience. “In May, I had a show at the Museum of the Defense of Leningrad, which is the Russian national museum of the siege.
As President Pribbenow said, “Knowing that light will pour through the tall glass of the Hagfors Center, and that people will pass though the reflected shape of the notes of this stirring hymn, ties the whole idea of the building together for me. Science, business, and religion, drawn together in space, time, and rhythm of the ages.”