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Spring 2010 Letters

Knox College President Roger Taylor '63Message from the President
Knox art -- two unrelated observations and one conclusion: First, shortly after Anne and I moved into the Ingersoll House in 2002, she asked art professor Tony Gant to work with her to replace the wall hangings in the residence with Knox art. He and fellow art professor Lynette Lombard searched through the College's collection of notable student work, selecting appropriate pieces, and hanging them.

This exercise produced a Knox collection that ranges from an oil on linen painting by E. Hofflund from the Class of 1938; to a print by Claire Smith '73 who returned to college in the 1970s, while she herself was in her 70s; and a painting by Helen Kilian '05, who was still a student when her Al Young prize-winning painting was hung. Though predominantly works done by Knox artists while they were students, the Ingersoll House Knox collection also includes a Spanish landscape by Professor Lombard and a photograph by Archie Lieberman, a respected photographer and visiting professor during the 1990s, of a worker in Madras making fabric for Lands' End Madras shirts. Visitors to Ingersoll House are struck by the variety and quality of the Knox art. The following pages about the Knox art program show why this would be so.

Second, on November 6, 2009, Professor of Theater Neil Blackadder and I sat together in Harbach Theater during a student performance of Checkov's Three Sisters, which he directed. Both of us were struck by how fidgety many of the students in the audience were. Granted, Three Sisters relies on dialogue, not action, to engage the audience, typical Checkov. Still, the challenge that the play obviously presented to the attention spans of the text-message generation audience was arresting.

Conclusion: as I read the pieces in this issue and remembered back to the students' reaction to Checkov, another reason for the importance of the Knox art program occurred to me. One really cannot multi-task while looking at art, making art, appreciating art. All call for concentration and
contemplation-activities at risk in our text and Twitter society, but surely worth preserving.

Roger Talyor '63

Megan Scott, Knox Magazine EditorLetter from the Editor
To say that I was impressed the first time I saw the George Rickey mural, The Offer of Education, is an understatement. I'd heard about the mural for years. I knew that it once graced the walls of the Oak Room in Seymour Union. I knew that it was in pieces and faded almost beyond repair. I'd also heard that it was plain ugly. When Greg Gilbert, associate professor of art history and senior curator at the Figge Art Museum, invited Cheri Siebken, assistant editor of the magazine, and me to see the restored mural in its new home-the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa-I had no idea what to expect.

The mural is displayed on the second floor of the Figge in its Midwest Regionalist gallery. The 14' X 14' mural is prominently displayed on its own wall at the end of the room. It's impossible to miss-and you don't want to. My eyes were first drawn to the mural's most recognizable figures, including Shakespeare. But the more I looked, the more people and places I recognized-Beecher Chapel, Old Main, the Bondi Building, the old Gothic house on Kellogg Street. And is that Hermann Muelder '27? Drawn in by the familiar images, I spent a good 15 minutes admiring this impressive artwork and imagining it adorning the halls of Seymour Union. If the mural was faded, tattered, and ugly before its restoration, it certainly wasn't now. The Offer of Education is alive with color, movement, and meaning.

As impressive as the mural is, the message that it offers its viewers is equally important. With the help of Knox students and faculty, Rickey created The Offer of Education as a testament to the importance of education-the great Western thinkers offering their knowledge to Knox faculty, who in turn offer it to Knox students. All of this is set within Galesburg and the Illinois prairie.

Rickey's mural may have only remained on campus for a little over 20 years, but his influence is still felt in the vibrancy of Knox's current art and art history programs. And just as impressed as I was with the mural, I have been equally as impressed as I've learned more about these programs, which fill Knox's Center for Fine Arts with color, movement, and meaning and, thanks to a dedicated faculty and an innovative student body, extend beyond the campus walls.

Megan Scott '96

Knox Magazine Fall 2009 CoverLetters to the Editor

I just wanted to write and let you know how much I've enjoyed-and continue to enjoy-this issue of Knox Magazine. The article on Stefano '91 and Whitney Witt Viglietti '92 was terrific. I've printed out the recipes and will attempt a couple of them-with three carnivores, one vegetarian, and one I'll-eat-anything in the household, preparing dinner can be a challenge.

Also, I was very pleased to see Jim McCurry's book Indium noted in the Alumni Books section. Jim was a friend of mine and a colleague at Carl Sandburg College for many years. He and I communicated while he was putting together his collection, and he shared some of the poems with me. Jim had a distinctive voice and point of view and a great love of poetry. His death saddens me. He was a wonderful teacher and very devoted to his students at Carl Sandburg. I'm glad others will know of his work through this collection.--Thomas Wolf '69

Honoring Lombard
Thanks for putting the article, "Honoring Lombard," in the fall issue. From my most recent visit to Galesburg several years ago, I guess that all of those buildings, but for maybe one, are now demolished. As you may know, all of my parents' generation, including aunts and uncles, graduated from Lombard. My grandfather Judge Lyman McCarl (1859-1920) of Quincy graduated around 1884 and was a trustee, and my other grandfather, Professor Philip G. Wright (1860-1934), taught there in 1892-1912. He favored the proposed merger with Knox and left, I believe, when this didn't come about. So it was a great blow to my family when the college closed in 1930. My father and uncles endowed the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching in his honor, and I'm glad to see that these awards are still made annually.--Theodore P. Wright, Jr., son of Ted Wright L'16 and Margaret McCarl L'16

Does Nothing Roil the Waters?
I want you to know I really enjoyed the fall issue of Knox Magazine; it's a beautiful, glossy piece of work. Features, scope, reporting, artwork, layout praiseworthy, but, paradoxically, in my sole and humble opinion, it is also, in one major aspect, seriously flawed. What bothers me is this: other than in the obits buried, so to speak, in the back pages, doesn't anything bad, controversial, or untoward ever happen to anyone, either presently at Knox or in the after-Knox population?

It's all so relentlessly upbeat, Panglossian, never-a-cloud-to obscure the sunny PR brew of comity and civility, success and reward, and earnest striving . . .

Is it all designed to create an illusion for current matriculants and to induce or indulge in alumni a gilded nostalgia for a Knox that never was? To restore balance, might I suggest, start with this:

"Many things in your good people cause me disgust, and, verily, not their evil. I would that they had a madness by which they succumbed, like this pale criminal."-Nietzsche, Thus spake Zarathustra. Now that would be interesting.--And so wrote, Henry Randolph '65