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ISSUE 117 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/12/2004

Sculptures worthy of Celebration

By Derek Zobel
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 12, 2004

Many students have seen them when walking past the administration building. The bronze sculptures just outside the registrars office have entered and exited countless students' thoughts in a matter of seconds, causing these pieces of art to be overlooked by many on campus.

Dedicated in 1982, the four sculptures are part of a series by Paul Granlund called "Celebration. Along with his works at St. Olaf, Granlund has numerous pieces displayed in the Twin Cities and around the Midwest.

All of his work was done in bronze, and because of working in close proximity with bronze and chemicals, he died at age 77 last year.

A native Minnesotan and life-long Lutheran, Granlund was unique in his fusing of modern art with religious and scientific undertones.

"Granlund does a good job of juxtaposing traditional religious values against modern scientific secular theories and forcing us to think about our own set of values," art history professor Matthew Rohn said.

The four pieces, "Creation," "Resurrection," "Community" and "Crucifixion," grace the area where the administration building and Dittman Center meet.

They share the common element of the tetrahedron, a geometric shape that has four triangular faces and four points.

Each piece features a different variation of the tetrahedron, most of them portraying one that has been split open.

"Creation" serves as an introduction to the rest of the series, combining the spiritual idea of creation and the scientific concept of evolution. One panel depicts swirling humanoid figures that represent Gods creation of man.

The panel adjacent portrays fossil shapes that illustrate Darwins famous idea.

The portrayal of these two starkly different ideas of creation activates debate in the viewers' minds, setting the stage for them to contemplate the remaining three sculptures.

"Resurrection," situated just outside the glass hallway leading into the administration building, is set at the audience's height. This work depicts a man emerging from a tetrahedron placed on top of a 22-foot pole.

It is unclear whether or not the man is Jesus, but the symbolism and orientation of the figure's emergence bring a sense of immortality and power to the work.

The last two pieces are physically connected.

"Community" and "Crucifixion" provide a sense of the glory of Jesus' sacrifice and the ensuing redemption bestowed upon his followers. "Crucifixion" is a unique piece of modern art, showing the power of Christ as an explosion of cubism.

"Community" may speak on a more personal level to St. Olaf students.

The piece portrays young men and women dancing and jumping in celebration at the beginning of a new era. Perhaps Granlund, a World War II veteran, was influenced by the experiences of his life.

Rohn believes that "Community" shows "modern young Man emerging triumphant after a dark age of the mid-20th century."

From the intricate details of "Creation" to the majesty commanded by "Crucifixion," Granlunds "Celebration" series carries an inspiring message to the St. Olaf campus, albeit one which many students have never heard.

In the words of Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you dont stop and look around for awhile, you could miss it."

It would be a fitting tribute to Granlund for students to stop and spend five minutes noticing "Celebration."

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