The portrait tradition at Iowa State University began in the 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, when Iowa State College (now University) was commissioning portraits at a remarkable pace. For over a decade, portraits were commissioned to commemorate the college’s heritage and legacies, the portraits portrayed Iowa State presidents, deans, accomplished faculty, and heralded alumni by well-known regional and national artists.
Beginning in the 1990s, Iowa State actively resumed commissioning formal portraits of deans, selected department chairs, and accomplished faculty as a means of celebrating, commemorating, and honoring Iowa States cultural legacy. The Faces of Iowa State project, begun in 2016 at the Iowa State Fair, is a continuation of this portrait tradition.
In 2010, University Museums helped establish the Dean’s Gallery in the newly renovated Curtiss Hall to prominently display agricultural art to our students, faculty and visitors from around the world. The most recent addition is a painting by Iowa artist Rose Frantzen celebrating the extraordinary relationship between George Washington Carver and Henry A. Wallace. As Dean, I frequently used this one painting to educate others about the college’s remarkable history, the power of science to increase knowledge and the importance of inclusion and diversity. Through art, we celebrate our legacy, science and leadership. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences appreciates its long connection with University Museums and the visual literacy and learning that it champions.
~Dr. Wendy Wintersteen
President, Iowa State University
Former Endowed Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Former Director, Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station
Faces of Iowa State is organized by University Museums with major support from: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, ISU Extension and Outreach, University Library, Office of the Vice President for Research, Office of the Provost, Office of the President and University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Transcript of interview with President Wendy Wintersteen, early 2021
“I’ll start by saying the Faces of Iowa State series was Lynette Pohlman’s [director of University Museums] brainchild, and it was such a fabulous idea to come forward to have Rose Frantzen paint at the State Fair. What a great thing, I just can’t imagine that anything like that will be done again. Faces of Iowa State will always be part of Iowa State University now, part of our legacy. Individuals 100 years from now will look back and learn about the history of ISU from these individuals.
So recently Lynette came forward and said she wanted a series of Faces relative to this COVID time. Well then the problem is that so many people played a critical role… making the fall semester a success, and I’m so proud of everyone. In the end, we said we are always about the students, it’s the students we should highlight. I asked the deans to provide nominations—who they thought would be reflective of the student experience during this pandemic. The deans have been submitting nominations, and I have been reviewing them. How do you choose? I already convinced Lynette that we at least needed to do 6 portraits rather than 4. We had to include president Morgan Fritz, president of Student Government and president Ellie Field, president of Graduate and Professional Student Senate. So my issue has been how do we select nominees in a way that reflects the true diversity of our student population.
And then with all the Faces, we hope viewers see the beautiful portrait and individual who is connected to ISU in some way. [Viewers] look at that beautiful portrait and read a little of that student’s story and it gives them a greater understanding of what it must have been like to be a student at Iowa State in the fall of 2020. Art brings understanding, perspective, and gives historical context, and then just the beauty of each of these portraits will give the viewer great joy. So I’m excited for individuals to be able to see these portraits.”