Curated by ART 362: 19th Century Art History Students
March 27 - May 24, 2015
“Nature and man’s hand must go together. Man has dominion over all life on this earth, but it is not his purpose to destroy that life which God has given him to protect. We are today living in a machine age. What is to follow no one knows, but there is one thing sure: nature will survive. Man in his arrogance and conceit passes away. A bird singing over his grave drops a from what was once conceited man. So nature seed, and out of that seed grows a beautiful tree getting its substance goes on without any vengence.”
Scandinavian landscape architect, Jens Jensen worked in and around the midwest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In 1909, he was asked by the Preus administration to landscape Luther’s evolving campus. This semester, the six students enrolled in Art in the Nineteenth Century were given the task of creating an exhibit focusing on Jens Jensen’s ideals as manifested in Luther College campus and landscapes pulled from the Fine Art Collection. We used resources such as Jensen’s own writings, Luther’s Fine Arts Collection Archives, and the future campus development plans in order to illustrate the holism of the ideals held by this landscape architect and Luther College.
Jensen often wrote about the “loveliness of the forest border where prairie and woodland meet,” a phrase that is echoed in Luther College’s mission statement (Siftings, 50). Jensen was ahead of his time in thinking about the living and learning environment, both in physical planning and sustainability. His values are shown throughout campus, especially in such elements as the council rings scattered about and the curving of the sidewalks that connect campus buildings. As former professors, alumni, and Decorah residents, each of the artists featured in our exhibition knew this landscape intimately. Although none would likely cite Jensen as a direct source of inspiration for his or her work, each illustrates an important aspect of Jensen’s philosophy that one grows to appreciate intuitively as one walks the Luther College campus.
For additional information on this show, please visit the Luther College Galleries Website.