Gustavus Fine Arts: Reflections on 2019 Posted on December 20th, 2019 by

As the year comes to a close, we pause to reflect and celebrate some of the most exciting moments of 2019 in the fine arts at Gustavus. From sold out theatre shows, to choir performances in Vienna’s Stephansdom and Leipzig’s Thomaskirche, to art exhibits of fungi and plastic, it has been a busy year full of artistry, creativity, and talent.


A diverse array of exhibits were housed in the two on-campus museums this year. In the Schaefer Art Gallery the Transfer of Memory exhibit brought the stories of Minnesota Holocaust survivors to campus along with several guest speakers.  Virginia A. Groot Sculptor in Residence Andrew Hellmund worked with students throughout the academic year on sculpture and displayed his work made of steel and other “found” objects in an exhibit called Inscapes. CV Peterson ’10 displayed her work with plastic and fungi in Mykitas Epoch – Fungal Expansion within the PlastisphereThe words and photographs of artist Mara Duvra followed in an exhibit entitled the patience is in the living which used text, video, and imagery to create a deeper understanding of blackness beyond public identity.

The Hillstrom Museum of Art opened the year with photographs by faculty member Priscilla Briggs in For the Gods which examined the effects of globalization on communities in India. The annual senior art show featured the work of seven studio art majors, all of whom held a second major in another subject. The fall shows featured work from the depression era in Industry, Work, Society, and Travails in the Depression Era: American Paintings and Photographs from the Shogren-Meyer Collection as well as pieces from across Africa in Eloquent Objects.


In January, the Gustavus Choir embarked on a 16-day Music Capitals of Europe tour where they performed in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Sweden. They were accompanied by a group of nearly 50 companion travelers made up of alumni, family, and friends.  The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble spent touring week on the road in Colorado by way of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. The Gustavus Wind Orchestra completed a Minnesota tour over spring break.

In March, the second annual Jazz Jamboree brought GRAMMY nominated jazz violinist Sara Caswell to campus along with hundreds of students from local high school jazz bands for a day of jazz education and performance.

The department celebrated the long careers of faculty members Greg Aune and Michael Jorgensen as they retired at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

The Björling Music Festival continued to grow, expanding to include the Gustavus Honor Band and Honor Orchestra, Honor Choir, Jazz Jamboree, and Concerto Competition for High School Musicians. The Gustavus Campus Band performed its first concert, welcoming the community to perform alongside students. Finally, graduate Michael McKenzie ’19 won second place in the American Prize in conducting.


The Department of Theatre and Dance had a busy season which kicked off with a play written from the point of view of the women of the House of Atreus in Iphigenia and Other Daughters.

The spring dance concert, Suspended Between the Worlds, featured a diverse body of work stemming from several guest choreographers who worked with students during the academic year on styles ranging from contemporary to Continuum, a type of movement training system originating in Columbia.

The academic year wrapped up with a one man show, Title and Deed, featuring theatre honors major Sam Burnham ’19 in a show about not quite fitting in anywhere.

Tickets for the fall production of Into the Woods sold out in less than 24 hours. The Stephen Sondheim musical featured a cast of 22 students and dozens more behind the scenes.

The final productions of the year operated in more of a “festival” style format with Lyric Confluence: Choreographers’ Gallery and Time to Get Real: Selections from the Classics of Modern Drama alternating dates and times throughout the weekend, giving audience members plenty of chances to attend both shows.  



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