USU's Agricultural Sciences Building Receiving Finishing Touches
Thursday, Aug. 01, 2013
Large, color-saturated works by USU art professor Woody Shepherd now grace the walls entering the south wing of the new Agricultural Sciences building at USU.
Peaceful landscapes by artist Colleen Howe Bleinberger have been placed in the building. Her art is influenced by her childhood spent on a thousand-acre ranch in Montana where her family raised cattle and grew hay.
Michael Bingham's contribution includes an abstract, 25-foot long painting showing the phases of the moon, a large bird with wings made of a patchwork of farmed fields, as well as kaleidoscope-like collages featuring photos taken in the building.
Detail of a section of Bingham's large painting.
The finishing touches are being made to Utah State University’s Agricultural Sciences building, coming in the form of nearly 30 paintings and photo collages created by three Cache Valley artists.
The building, completed in the spring of 2012, houses the administration for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, Extension, the Utah Agricultural Experiment station, the Journalism and Communication department, research laboratories, classrooms and a café.
Though the artists all currently call Cache Valley home, the paths that led each of them to Utah are as unique as the style and subject matter of the art they create.
Woody Shepherd, an associate professor in the Department of Art and Design at USU, provided the large paintings that sit at the entrance to the south wing of each floor. Shepherd, an Alabama native, said that the beautiful landscapes found in the western United States are one of the reasons he was drawn to USU.
“I’m constantly wowed by the landscape,” Shepherd said.
His work depicts wooded areas around the region in colors that wouldn’t necessarily be considered natural.
“Color interactions are something I’ve studied a lot,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite challenges — how to deal with very radical kinds of color combinations that optically or perceptually mix together and make something that is believable.”
While Shepherd’s work tends to depict peaceful wooded spaces, Colleen Howe Bleinberger’s style focuses on the interaction between light, wide-open spaces, buildings and animals. Bleinberger’s interest in art developed during her childhood on a thousand-acre ranch in Montana where her family raised cattle and grew hay.
“Even as a kid I was really interested in what happened with the light and what color it was,” Bleinberger said.
Bleinberger’s interest in art never faded, and she is now known for paintings that hover between representational and impressionistic. Her largest addition to the AGRS building is just that, large, and includes both realistic depictions of a local barn and grazing cattle as well as muted, broad brushstrokes evoking a sunny summer morning in the valley.
“My priority is beauty and the peacefulness that comes from being outdoors,” she said.
Bleinberger’s art will be found on every floor of the building, where she intends to channel the academic specialties of the researchers on each floor in her paintings.
If Bleinberger’s work depicts agriculture as people see it while travailing around Cache Valley, Michael Bingham’s paintings and collages show agriculture in a way that only artists would see the university’s oldest field of study. Bingham’s contributions to the building include an abstract 25-foot long painting showing the phases of the moon, a large bird with wings made of a patchwork of farmed fields, as well as kaleidoscope-like collages featuring photos taken in the building.
Bingham, who teaches art classes at Mountain Crest High School and originally studied architecture at BYU-Idaho, hopes that his work will inspire visitors to the building to see agriculture from a new perspective.
“It has been my experience that artists see the world a little differently…they look at things inside out and upside down,” he said. “Hopefully, it will spark an idea or cause somebody to think of something that they hadn’t thought of before.”
The idea that art can inspire research and interest in the field of agriculture is one shared by all of the artists.
“I’m so proud of the fact that my work will be in this building and that it will be seen by people who are interested in agriculture…hopefully it will really inspire them to think about how important what they are doing is,” Bleinberger said. Bingham echoed Bleinberger’s sentiments; “I’m trying to create something in the foyer of that beautiful new building that will not just be something that is pretty to look at, but something that will also inspire some thought and ideas.”
Installation of art will continue through the summer and is expected to be complete for the beginning of USU’s fall semester.
Contact: Tiffany Adams, (435) 797-7406, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Elaine Taylor, ElaineJTaylor@gmail.com