Steve ’67 B.A. and Sandy Batalden say they were attracted to the “Art and Identity” project when they saw the “stunning” work of Amy Rice. Rice’s series, Six Minnesota Wildflowers to Meet and Know, was commissioned by Augsburg University for the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. “We immediately liked her work,” explains Sandy, who shares with Rice an appreciation for letterpress printing, which is featured in the works. “Not only is she using original materials in her paintings, but the unusual botanical subject matter seems to fit perfectly in a building intended for the life sciences.” In a recent donor statement, the Bataldens wrote that “beyond botanical accuracy, Amy’s drawings transport us into an entirely new realm as leaves and flowers become frames for musical scores or other chosen text woven into each piece. What a creative, beautiful expression for the university of the twenty-first century!”
Art and Identity
In her artist’s statement, Rice explains that she began her process by hand-drawing and hand-cutting stencils of rare Minnesota plants. “The plants are ‘painted’ in with a variety of antique and vintage paper: maps and plat books of Minnesota counties (I only used maps from counties where the plants are actually found), Norwegian-language liturgy from the 1870s, sheet music, handwritten letters from early Minnesotans, homework, biology textbooks and early Augsburg ephemera.” She notes that her interest in native plants connects to her Christian faith tradition. “It is the sacred trust we have been given to be stewards of our Earth. My Grandpa Ed, a seventh generation Midwestern farmer, knew the names of every plant on his large farm. He didn’t own them; he was responsible for them.” That, she wrote, was one way he modeled faith in action.
Beauty and Inspiration
Steve notes that the timeliness of the “Art and Identity” project captured his own and Sandy’s imagination. “We are living in a deeply troublesome and dangerous Trump era when, especially here in the Arizona southwest, walls are political symbols meant to divide sharply and impose barriers. What a wonderful idea for Hagfors Center to refashion walls as settings for beauty and inspiration!”
Augsburg commissioned Six Minnesota Wildflowers and works by other artists to express its core identity, grounded in durable faith, inclusion, and experiential learning. “Great universities manage to nurture creative artistic production alongside scientific discovery,” say the Bataldens, who have spent their careers in higher education. Steve is professor emeritus of Russian history and founding director of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Arizona State University. Sandy is a retired university librarian, bibliographer, and scholarly book editor.
Personal and public. Creative and practical. Forward-thinking and backward-knowing. By sponsoring “Both/and,” a custom glass art treatment for the skyway that links the library to the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, Karolynn Lestrud ’68 supports artist Teri Kwant’s effort to bridge disparate disciplines both figuratively and literally.
Kwant’s art will illustrate the transitional space by etching pairs of words from different disciplines into the glass of the skyway. Think: define divinity, probe force, radiate support, love density. When Lestrud, an English major who did graduate work in linguistics and considers word play a part of her life, first saw the proposal, she thought, “Fantastic! But then I started puzzling over the pairs that didn’t make sense—and thought aha! She got me! She made me ponder,” says Lestrud. “I hope students will react the same way, with their curiosity piqued as they stroll through. I wonder if they will write about their experiences, walking through this walkway of words.”
Words on the skyway windows will also make the glass visible to birds, so they don’t “smack themselves silly on the glass. I thought this was a brilliant solution to a real concern, and a very thought-provoking piece as well,” she adds.
Lestrud lauds the selection process, too. A resident of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, she volunteers for and supports various art groups, including those charged with choosing art for public spaces. “It’s such an interesting process, because you have people who know nothing about art but ‘know what they like.’ It’s hard to set up guidelines when you hear commentary like that,” she points out. “Many people want to go for something very representational, very safe, and in many cases, very uninteresting. But that didn’t happen on this committee.”
She served on Augsburg’s Art and Identity committee, which began discussing art when the Hagfors Center was “still a dream on paper,” working with architects to identify where artwork should go, what size it should be, and how it should be lit. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, people wait until the structure is inhabited before they start embellishing it,” she explains. “We seem to have an innate yearning to embellish our surroundings. The earliest people did cave drawings. The Victorians had every surface covered with doodads. So we’re following a very natural impulse, and I think it’s wonderful that Augsburg made the commitment to do this in a well-thought-out and big way.”
Once locations were selected and artist proposals solicited, committee members met with artists individually to field questions and fuel the creative mission through a deeper understanding of the building in particular and Augsburg in general. “That was also interesting and not always something that happens in the broader world,” Lestrud says. She was delighted to chat with Kwant, a public artist, director of RSP Dreambox, and frequent lecturer on experience design, environments, and communications for the U. of Minnesota School of Design and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Kwant will also create one-of-a-kind glassed-topped tables that are available for sponsorship.
Lestrud contrasts the Hagfors Center with the boxy, cement block structure of the old science hall. “When you walked in, all you wanted to do was get out again,” she remembers. “The art going into this new building will make it the kind of place that will inspire students, give them a mental break, and, I believe, encourage them to linger.”
The life path of Dustin (Dusty) Froyum ’98 has had its share of twists and turns, but somehow he always manages to find his way “home” to Augsburg. He acknowledges his gratitude with an annual gift to the Augsburg Fund as well as a recent pledge to sponsor a room in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion to honor favorite professor and fellow alumnus Dale Pederson ‘70.
“Augsburg runs through my whole family. It’s a big part of who we are,” says Froyum, citing alumni relatives that include both parents, his aunt and uncle, and a younger brother. “When my older cousins were attending Augsburg during my teenage years, I think I had promised that I was never going to Augsburg. But you know what? I went there on a football visit and it just felt right. It felt like home,” he adds. “I turned down some football and academic scholarships to come home to Augsburg.”
Sports and science connections cemented the bond. Like his father and brother, Froyum played football, and like his mother and brother, he majored in science during his upper division years, landing in Pederson’s notoriously challenging cellular biology class. “He is a tough but fair professor. I never tried so hard to get a 4.0,” says Froyum, who managed a 3.5. “He is a role model as a person of science and faith famous for pushing students to do their best. My brother’s zoology class was famously difficult as well. Dr. Pederson famously said that he could write a test for which no one could get a right answer, and I’m sure that’s true. He is an extraordinarily brilliant person who, quite frankly, could have been successful in a lot of different settings. But he chose to dedicate his vocational life to Augsburg, and that should be honored. With its fusion of science and faith and impact on the community, the Hagfors Center spoke to me. I can think of no better place to honor Dr. Pederson.”
After graduating, Froyum earned a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law, intending to become an intellectual property lawyer focused on biotech and chemical patents. “But I ended up as a summer intern at Wells Fargo and fell in love with it,” he says. He has handled technology transactions there for nearly 17 years. “That’s an important part of my giving motivation. Wells Fargo is a huge corporate donor and has one of the largest community support programs in the country. It is ingrained in our culture, and they make giving very easy, especially to quality nonprofit educational institutions.”
In his younger years, Froyum adds, he had more time to donate. But today, with two young children, a busy career at Wells Fargo, and side projects dedicated to integrated alternative energy, financial contributions—especially when matched by his employer—are what he is best able to give.
“I feel an overall social responsibility to my Augsburg education,” he says. “I attribute some of those values to my grandfather, who was very progressive in many ways. At some point he turned over his farm acreage to conservation interests, and he chose to be cremated instead of occupying a piece of land.” Froyum lives his values at home, too, by driving an electric car, and tending an urban farm, and making his Golden Valley home completely energy-independent.
“To be part of your community and your world, you need to be responsible. I’ve done well in my career, and this is what I can do,” he says. There is, after all, no place like home.
As a young man just out of high school, Scott D. Anderson ’96 had already developed a love for drawing and painting. He had artistic talent, but the skills necessary to make a full-time living pursuing art were then beyond his reach. He became a chemical technician at 3M instead, launching a career that has helped him come full circle, back to his first love through philanthropy.
“Art inspires me,” says Anderson, who is sponsoring “A Song of Dust” by collage artist Stephanie Hunder in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion through the Art & Identity program. “Ever since I got my chemistry degree, I’ve wanted to give something back to Augsburg. I’m very grateful to Augsburg for giving me the opportunity to obtain a degree in science. Now I can return the favor.”
With the support of his employer, Anderson completed his chemistry degree through Augsburg’s Weekend College. It took him about six years while working full-time. He has been a regular donor to the Augsburg Chemistry Alumni Scholarship ever since, and he has also devoted more than 36 years to 3M, where he is now a senior research chemist in the Infection Prevention Division.
The art he chose for Hagfors Center is a 6’ by 12’ piece comprised of five panels, one of which had already been sponsored. Anderson will sponsor two panels, and 3M’s employee matching gift program will cover the remaining two. Stephanie Hunder, gallery director and art professor at Concordia University in St. Paul, uses printmaking and photography to create images of actual objects, such as branches and grasses pressed into paper, that often mimic scientific recording in some ways. Anderson spotted her work while exploring an entire room of art proposed for the Art & Identity campaign.
“What she put on the canvas was partly scientific and partly artistic, so it represented the sciences and the arts at the same time. In fact, it represents what I do now at 3M—chemistry, engineering, biology. It all flows together. It meshes,” says Anderson. “To see art on the walls when you walk around campus is pretty inspiring, at least for me.” The piece will appear with a small recognition plaque in a prominent hallway near the physics area in the Hagfors Center.
The Hagfors Center is slated to open next January. Meanwhile, though he is not yet ready to retire, Anderson is beginning to rediscover his talent for art, using pen and ink, watercolor, and acrylics in occasional projects. “Sometimes I surprise myself,” he says. “I believe it is important to mix art with academics, as well as mixing humanity studies with science.”
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”→
The Rev. Dr. Philip Quanbeck, Sr. ’50 is one of the most decorated faculty members in the history of Augsburg, even among the 80 or so Quanbeck extended family members in the Augsburg fold. So it is little wonder that he is also claimed by Bethlehem Lutheran Church, at 4100 Lyndale Ave. South in Minneapolis, where he became a beloved visitation pastor after retiring from teaching in 1993 and was named Pastor Emeritus in 2010. Bethlehem Lutheran has chosen to honor him by sponsoring two pieces of art in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.
“Everyone just adores him,” says Rianne Leaf, who chairs Bethlehem Foundation’s grants committee. “He is such a warm human being, and he has a wonderful way of drawing people out and involving them in discussions. He is not a lecturer as much as a leader, and his insights are profound.”
Now in his mid-90s, Quanbeck still attends church on many Sunday mornings. He is known for arriving at 8 a.m. to hear the sermon, then adding its points to his Bible study discussion at 9 a.m. Forty to sixty people have often packed the room to participate in the lively conversations he guides.
“When Augsburg applied for a grant, we knew we wanted to honor him,” Leaf says. Although the $10,500 grant was approved a year ago, it was last November when Augsburg displayed more than 25 signature art concepts chosen for the Hagfors Center and invited potential sponsors to meet the artists. The Bethlehem Lutheran arts committee wasted little time deciding which to sponsor.
“We all immediately agreed on the sunburst. Then one of our committee noticed a beautiful woodsy landscape that reminded us of Phil and Dora and the cabin they love. The more we looked at it, the more intrigued we became, and we made a unanimous decision about 15 minutes later to also purchase that one,” Leaf recalls. “That was a fun process.”
The sunburst, titled “Let There Be Light,” will be a large three-dimensional piece of ceramic, glass, grout, and fiberglass by Kristen Opalinski ’03. The fine and studio arts graduate became a graphic designer and marketing expert and now uses her expertise to explore faith and social justice. Leaf says the piece reminded them of Quanbeck’s interest in and great respect for the world’s many religions.
The landscape artist is Tiit Raid, who hails from Estonia, earned his BA and MA degrees from the University of Minnesota, exhibits widely, and has worked from his Fall Creek, Wisconsin, studio for the past 40 years. His piece, “Observation,” is a 23” by 68” acrylic on paper piece mounted on a wood panel. It includes phrases along the borders, and he has agreed to incorporate some of Quanbeck’s words in the finished artwork.
Leaf said that the group was thrilled to learn, after choosing the pieces, that both were already slated for display in the religion wing. “As you come down the hallway, you’ll see the sunburst at the end. We loved that impact,” she says. “The other will go above a study shelf, where students will be able to study, philosophize and daydream while looking up at it.”
Leaf said the group is looking forward to meeting with Quanbeck to procure his favorite sayings. “He is so humble but so pleased that we are honoring him with this award,” says Leaf. “And we all hope to be there for the dedication in September or October.”
“From the moment I heard that a chapel would be included in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, I wanted to design a piece of art for it,” said artist Bebe Keith. Her large 3-D glass sculpture will become a featured element of the building’s roof top chapel thanks to the sponsorship investment by Jeff Nodland ’77 and Becky Bjella Nodland ’79.
“One of the things that drew my attention to this opportunity is that Augsburg is recognized as the fourth most diverse and inclusive campus in the United States. The idea that people of all faiths and backgrounds will use the chapel space interested me while also presenting a challenge to me as an artist.”
Bebe Keith has been creating art professionally for about 12 years, mostly in the public art realm. “I usually create stained glass mosaics by hand for public spaces, primarily in health care. “When I got the Art and Identity committee’s call for artists I wanted to do something distinctive.”
Drawing on inspiration from scripture, her original design was all about diversity, connections and networks between people.
“When I presented my first 2-D design to the Art and Identity Committee, they really latched on to the idea but wondered if it could actually be produced in three dimensions, so I figured out a way to make that happen.”
She found a computer program that helped her illuminate what was in her mind’s eye. It worked. The design addresses the networking of the three disciplines of science, business, and religion was at the origin of her idea.
“I started with the idea of networks—dots with lines connecting with other dots with lines which connect to others and so on. The negative space is all triangles. So the idea of people as networks becomes forms.”
As Keith puts it, “Acceptance is the most important value to me. I love to imagine people coming together in harmony and peace. Acceptance is the ideal. I want to promote places and spaces where people come together and listen to one another. This chapel is a place for sharing ideas and taking them along with them into the world. It will be a quiet place and those ideas are all there for the visitor.” Continue reading “Distinctive Sculpture Articulates Augsburg Identity”→
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.”
Thanks in part to her Columbia boots and the diligence of her “amazing” guardian angel, Carol Ott ’90 has joined the legion of angels ensuring Augsburg’s future.
“You never know when your time is up,” Ott decided after a 2014 pedestrian accident shook her world. She had just left her yoga class when a truck struck her, trapping her left foot under the tire. Apart from whiplash and some chiropractic needs, she emerged relatively unscathed. But the event gave her pause, and reviewing other meaningful times in her life prompted her to remember Augsburg in her will.
“The relationships built during my four years there were the most impactful of my life,” says Ott, who followed her brother to Augsburg. The two hailed from the small Minnesota town of Lakeville, where their family lived on 10 acres in what was then a farming community.
As a freshman, Ott immediately connected with her orientation leader, Jacquie Berglund ’87, and the two have remained friends ever since. Ott was a chemistry and marketing double major who planned to make and market perfume, but a dismal business climate at graduation steered her toward marketing instead. Berglund, too, ended up in business, as CEO and co-founder of Finnegans, a beer company that is the state’s 10th largest and the world’s first to donate its profits to those in need.
“What I loved most was the ethics, learning right from wrong, and figuring out how to combine my religious beliefs with my daily life. I was very much influenced by Pastor Wold’s views on marketing ethics and religion,” Ott says. (Pastor Dave Wold, Augsburg’s pastor since 1983, was named Campus Pastor Emeritus when he retired in 2013.)
After earning her MBA from St. Thomas in 1996, Ott had ample opportunity to put her beliefs into practice in a career that has ranged widely both geographically and corporately. Her expertise in first direct, then digital marketing and e-commerce has benefitted such companies as Fingerhut, Carlson Wagonlit, Select Comfort, Petco, and ShopNBC, as she moved from West Coast to East Coast and back again to Minnesota.
Now director of marketing analytics at Best Buy, Ott returns to Augsburg annually to share her experience with marketing classes. She is also a fan of class reunions and looks forward to participating in the big one, Augsburg’s sesquicentennial. “When we had our 25th reunion, we just picked up where we left off. It’s a small school, and you know everyone in your grade.”
She has not yet designated where her planned gift will go, though she is considering both science and business. She also welcomes to campus the new Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, the capital campaign which surpassed its $50 million fundraising goal. Groundbreaking for the building will take place on April 29, 2016.
“Science, business, religion—tying those pillars together is what drives me,” Ott says.