Dakota Wesleyan University’s digital media and design program has been awarded a three-year contract to design the murals for The World’s Only Corn Palace in Mitchell.
DWU students will design the next three themes, including the newly announced 2020 theme, “South Dakota Home Grown.”
This announcement follows a successful first year with DWU students designing the 2019 murals, “Salute to the Military,” under the direction of Kyle Herges, associate professor of digital media and design at DWU.
“The Corn Palace director approached me last year to see if there was interest among students to participate in this project and we jumped at it,” Herges said. “How many design programs get to say their art goes onto a state landmark that is publicized nationwide? This is invaluable experience at their level.”
Herges said that students are already at work coming up with designs for next year.
“Working with Kyle and the Dakota Wesleyan students has been a great experience,” said Scott Schmidt, Corn Palace director. “This first year was sort of a pilot year – the Corn Palace has always hired one artist to design the murals and this is definitely the first time we asked students, but you can see they really care about the project. With this year’s theme, they really came together to create murals for every military branch and managed to tie many of them to South Dakota. When the murals are complete, I think people are going to be really impressed.”
The “Salute to Military” murals are going up now, with two of the largest murals complete. The Corn Palace also did something entirely new this year by formally dedicating the murals on Oct. 26 with community members and veterans in attendance.
“The dedication of this year’s ‘Salute to Military’ murals couldn’t have gone better. We had a great turnout and a lot of support from the community,” Schmidt said. “I think we’ve had a lot of special themes in the past, and definitely murals that have amazed, but I think it’s safe to say there is something quite special about honoring your servicemen and women. When you couple that with this year’s dedication of the USS South Dakota submarine, this year is unique.”
The USS South Dakota is a Virginia-class nuclear submarine, which goes into service this fall. The Corn Palace revealed the 2019 theme a year ago with crew members from the USS South Dakota in attendance. The last vessel named for South Dakota was the USS South Dakota battleship, which served from 1942 to 1947. A mural commemorating the battleship is on the front of the Corn Palace, while the submarine is on the southwest corner.
There are nine murals in all with the two front-facing murals measuring 20 by 30 feet wide. Last year, Herges incorporated the mural designs into one of his classes but for the next round he has opened it up to all digital media and design students. The process for selection will be the same – the students will present their designs to the Corn Palace Committee for approval – those selected will go on to grace the palace walls beginning next fall.
This is the first time DWU students have been asked to design the murals but the connection between the university and Corn Palace dates back to the 1940s.
Oscar Howe, who was an artist-in-residence at DWU in 1948 while also working on his college degree, designed the Corn Palace murals from 1948 to 1971. Howe, who was a Yanktonai Sioux born on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, graduated from DWU in 1952 and became Artist Laureate of South Dakota. Many of his paintings hang on campus in the Dakota Discovery Museum, there is a rare ceiling mural in the Carnegie Resource Center, and also an Oscar Howe Art Gallery on the second floor of the Corn Palace. Later, Cherie Ramsdell, a local artist and former art professor at DWU, took up the mantle and designed the murals for 2003 until 2018.
DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church. For more information about Dakota Wesleyan University, go to www.dwu.edu.
About the World’s Only Corn Palace
The World’s Only Corn Palace is one of the oldest and most unique sports and entertainment venues in the region. Although during the summer months, the Corn Palace offers free tours led by friendly guides full of "a-maize-ing" facts, like how many nails and staples are used in the decoration process of our annual change of murals, we host a variety of events including concerts, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, bull riding, circus, banquets, graduations and much more. The facility can host up to 3,200 people. For more information, please visit www.cornpalace.com.