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Student paints mural to honor professor

November 9, 2006

In remembrance of history professor Ed Peterson, who died of heart failure March 25, 2005, student Garrett Bergemann painted a mural depicting six different postures of his teaching style.

The mural now hangs in the west hallway of the Wyman Education Building (WEB). A reception for the mural will be at 3 p.m. Nov. 28 in the same location.

Student Senate was asked by Chancellor Don Betz to offer input as to where the painting should be displayed on campus, Senate President Joe Eggers said. A motion was passed Nov. 7 for the piece’s permanent placement in the WEB hallway.

Betz was looking for an artist on campus to paint a mural originally planned for North Hall, Bergemann said. He was approached by art education professor Lynn Jermal last semester to create the art.

“With Lynn as my advisor and mentor, I applied for an RSCA grant,” Bergemann said. “I got the grant and had a meeting with my client, the chancellor.”

Bergemann said he was able to sit in his room and paint for 10 hours a day during the summer because of the money from the grant.

He said he spent the beginning of the summer preparing the images and ideas depicted in the mural. In July, he began painting, concluding his work at the end of September.

The layout of the mural is primarily based on the techniques of photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who used multiple images to show motion, Bergemann said.

“The six panels are also an extension of the triptych, where three panels are used to show more of a narrative in painting,” Bergemann said. “I am a huge fan of the figurative painter Francis Bacon, who made a living off of this triptych painting presentation.”

The goal of the painting was to show the teacher’s passion through his actions in front of a class, he said. The background is in ambiguous abstract form because Bergemann wanted to portray the visual representation of Peterson’s passion, but he also wanted students to visualize his thoughts.

“I wanted to show the core of knowledge that action causes reaction, which creates awareness,” Bergemann said. “As students walk down the hallway, Ed Peterson will follow them from left to right or right to left, teaching passionately that forced these students to react.”

The border around the top and bottom of the mural includes images of the community.

The Student Affairs and Academic Services Committee suggested the painting’s placement in the hallway of WEB, where it is currently on display, Senator Natalie Hagberg said.

“It is showing different teaching styles,” Hagberg said. “It is perfect for the building because it is the teaching building.”

The hallway in WEB was chosen by the committee because the building is mostly used for teaching classes, she said.

“Many of our future teachers are coming from there,” Hagberg said. “So, it only seems appropriate to have the painting there.”

Hagberg said the painting shows the techniques and mannerisms of Peterson’s teaching style so well that it is only appropriate to have the picture hanging in the building where students are learning to teach.

Though Bergemann never had Peterson as a professor, he said it was extremely easy to paint Peterson through images that he found to suit the needs of his vision as an artist.

“I don’t think I could have represented this mural the way I did if I had a relationship with him in the past,” he said. “I feared that this mural would become a memorial of sorts for Ed, and that was not my intentions at all. I wanted to show that we are all similar in that we are all unique, and I wanted to inspire a community by giving a glorified representation of one process of teaching, making people aware that there is something special in educating and becoming educated."