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An Afternoon of Awe and Art

I am by no means an expert in art history or art in general, but I do try to appreciate art and the experience that it gives me. This afternoon after I completed my last exam of the week I decided I would spend the afternoon at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, IA. All of the Augustana students are able to get in for free if they have their student ID, so I figured I would go and check out if they had any new exhibitions.

I went to the museum about a month ago, so I had already seen the NASA Space Art, Posing Beauty in African American Culture, and several other galleries. But when I got to the third floor I was particularly pleased with what I experienced. The exhibition by Rose Frantzen called, “Portrait of Maquoketa: The Dimensional View” caught my eye. I walked into a room with empty walls, and a considerable amount of panels suspended from the ceiling. On one side, each panel had 3-5 12×12 portraits of the people of Maquoketa, Iowa, and on the other side of each panel was a landscape painting. Once I weaved my way through all of the portraits, I was at the end point, and I saw how all of the landscape paintings on the back side of the portraits created one colossal three dimensional landscape of Maquoketa, Iowa.

This piece spoke to me in a number of different ways. First, I was captured by the quality of Frantzen’s portraits. She did an excellent job of creating a sense of individuality in each of her 180 paintings. When I saw the giant landscape that came together on the opposite panels, I was again in awe at the quality. Not only was each panel very detailed, but the way that they all came together to create a three dimensional landscape was something that I had never experienced or thought about before when dealing with art–I just always thought that landscapes were on flat canvases.

Then, the portraits and the landscape came together for me. These people of Maquoketa, Iowa make up the landscape. The land is their backbone. No matter what age, gender, or race the people in the portraits were, they were all brought together by where they lived. When I looked at the big picture, they are a community. The sense of a community is powerful to me, and now I have a new way of thinking about what a community is, and what it means to be a part of one.

Until next time,


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