Mainframe artist Lee Emma Running recently finished a permanent art installation titled “Five Miles from Fayette” at Upper Iowa University’s Edgar Fine Arts Hall.
Running’s “Five Miles From Fayette” is a site-specific window installation inspired by the C.C. Parker Herbarium of Upper Iowa University.
According to the University Archives, C.C. Parker became UIU’s first professor of natural sciences when its doors opened in 1857. An interest in botany sparked him to start a herbarium collection of dried and preserved plant samples for each plant species that he would encounter in his travels. Also serving as Fayette’s first doctor, Parker was provided many opportunities to travel the countryside and collect plants.
With nearly 500 specimens, Parker was reported to have one of the most complete herbarium collections west of the Mississippi in the 1860s and ‘70s. The extensive collection included several rare specimens, some of which are no longer found in the region. Parker is believed to have donated his herbarium collection to UIU in 1900. As of June of 2018, a total of 400 herbarium specimens have been identified as being part of the original Parker herbarium collection, bridging together 160 years of research and spurring creation of the C.C. Parker Herbarium.
The Herbarium and art installation was made possible by the descendants of C.C. Parker, UIU President William R. Duffy said. “We are especially grateful for the $100,000 gift from Dr. James Parker, the great-grandson of Dr. C.C. Parker, which allowed us to establish the C.C. Parker Herbarium of Upper Iowa University.”
Through Parker’s work, Running created a second “room” for the 19th century plant samples to come alive. Running was influenced by the beauty, color and form of the hundreds of plant specimens. “Everything I create investigates the beauty and complexity of natural phenomena,” Running said. “I love that these plants are translucent and hold so much color in their petals, even though they are so old. When I see them projected they remind me of stained glass.”
Running uses the simple tools of projection, tracing, stenciling and cutting to identify and expand characteristics of biological ephemera. She often utilizes close handwork and digital manipulation to inspect found detritus, like a twist of animal hair, a network of leaf veins or a cluster of roots. Transforming the scale of these bits of nature reveals their intricate networks, and identifies the universal nature inherent within them.
About Lee Emma Running
Lee Emma Running received her MFA from the University of Iowa in 2005 and joined the faculty of Grinnell College in the same year where she teaches Sculpture and Drawing, and has a specialization in hand papermaking. Her work is an investigation of form and pattern found in the natural world. She has shown her work at many venues across the country and was awarded a major site-specific commission at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. Lee has completed residencies at Jentel Artists Residency in Wyoming and The Vermont Studio Center. She is a 2017 Iowa Arts Council Artist Fellow and has studio #453 at Mainframe Studios. Visit her work at leeemmarunning.org and Olson-Larsen Galleries.
About Upper Iowa University
Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to about 5,800 students–nationally and internationally–at its Fayette campus, 21 U.S. locations, as well as locations in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree program. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit uiu.edu.
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