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Portrait of Sarah Bartlett

Who Am I? Exhibition

Published onAug 25, 2020
Portrait of Sarah Bartlett

Sarah Bartlett, 2020
Rose Frantzen (American, b. 1951)
Oil on canvas.
Part of the Faces of Iowa State series.
Commissioned by University Museums. Funded by University Museums. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

Interpretation 1

In an effort to continue and evolve the portraiture tradition at Iowa State, artist Rose Frantzen (b. 1951) was commissioned to paint portraits of a selection of impactful Iowa State University alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends live during the course of the 2016 Iowa State Fair and as an artist-in-residence on campus in April and October of 2017.  The Faces of Iowa State Project continues and in 2019 Frantzen was commissioned to add portraits of Sarah Bartlett, Class of 2020 and the Lynette L. Pohlman Fellow at University Museums, and Jamie Pollard, Iowa State University Athletic Director. Following the exhibition Who Am I ?, these two recent commissions will be installed with all the Faces of Iowa State in the Parks Library.

Frantzen’s portrait series continues the tradition of highlighting the people of Iowa State from all walks of life, and pushes the university’s collection of portraiture into modernity. Each of the portrait participants in Faces of Iowa State were selected by campus partners–deans, vice presidents and directors, and were painted in individual four-hour sessions, resulting in a sense of spontaneity in each portrait. Frantzen is both an accomplished artist and an insightful psychologist who captures the essence as well as the likeness of each person. Throughout this process, each portrait participant commented on the bonding between the artist and themselves. The Faces of Iowa State reflects the artist’s desire to meet her subject on their terms. The consistent frontal pose in the portraits indicates the openness and intimacy of these encounters between subject and painter. Portraiture continues to be an elegant and sincere way to honor the accomplished men and women at Iowa State University. The timelessness and approachability of portraits allows the community to connect with and be inspired by these individuals and their stories. Portraits have always been more than simply a record; they show the intelligence, importance, virtue, beauty, emotion and other qualities of the sitter through the eyes of an artist. Faces of Iowa State, according to Rose Frantzen, is “people harmonizing at ISU.” By celebrating those who are important to us, Iowa State University is defining its identity.

Excerpt from Faces of Iowa State gallery guide, 2017, University Museums.

Interpretation 2

I see a young, modern woman, maybe early twenties, looking into the future. A soon to be college graduate. She exudes intelligence. She is ready to pursue her new life. Eyes full of curiosity yet wondering what life holds for her next. At the same time, she has goals to achieve. Educational and personal goals. She has a plan. She knows what further studies she will undertake and the career that she envisions after completing her studies. She intends to reach her goals as fast as possible. Without delay. Underlying her seemingly calm composure is a backstop of confidence. She can do it. Reality, practicality or economic feasibility will not deter her. She is determined to achieve what she will set out to do.

She is a people person. Youthful warmth exudes from her gaze. She wants to learn. From people. From books. From hands-on experience. Always learning. Always moving. Never still for very long.

Art, through painting, can capture the essence of a person in some ways that other media cannot. Art can afford greater opportunity for interpretation by the artist as well as allowing the viewer a greater latitude for interpretation and connectedness to the subject being portrayed by the artist. This painting is a current example.  The brushstrokes, the backdrop, the shades of coloring and the shape of her expression allows me, as the viewer, to interpret, and even connect to, what might be this woman’s true persona.  

Jason Kogan
University Museums donor


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