Beginning in the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Iowa State University (ISU) made it a priority to commission and paint portraits. The commemoration of presidents, deans, accomplished faculty and heralded alumni strove to honor the college’s heritage and legacies. This tradition continues today with the active commissioning of portraits by departments and colleges all across ISU and was furthered at the 2016 Iowa State Fair.
Painted on site “Faces of Iowa State” features the 39 portraits painted by Maquoketa artist Rose Frantzen. Frantzen's art has been featured nationally, including an exhibit of her Portrait of Maquoketa project at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition subjects were chosen by Iowa State University's colleges and select units. Portrait sitters included students, faculty, staff, alumni and individuals with close ties to the university.
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response the ISU portraits received during the State Fair, Faces of Iowa State is a touring exhibition that seeks to share these magnificent paintings to sites across the state. The focus of “Faces of Iowa State” is to celebrate not only the tradition and the impact of portraiture at ISU, but also show the development of ISU as a story of democracy where the vision, dreams, and actions of individual people play a vital role in how our collective identity is shaped.
Maquoketa Art Experience, December 9, 2017-February 12, 2018
Muscatine Art Center, February 15-April 15, 2018
Pearson Lakes Art Center, April 26-June 23, 2018
Blanden Art Museum, August 4-October 14, 2018
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website