Charles Linn
School of Architecture, Design & Planning

Artwork reflects modern-day challenges in Kansas agriculture

Fri, 09/27/2013

LAWRENCE — Last spring, Department of Design students in Professor Patrick Dooley’s Visual Communications Publication and Editorial class designed “1 Kansas Farmer,” a series of six display panels to present topics related to the environmental realities facing Kansans today and their historic roots, dating back to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

The panels were inspired by the history of the Dust Bowl, the science behind this environmental disaster, and the art that came out of it. They also visually communicate the research of the Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers’ Land Use Decisions project (BACC:FLUD) currently being conducted by scholars at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. The studies examine Kansas farmers’ land-use decisions, and their relationship to biofuel crop opportunities and climate change.

“1 Kansas Farmer” is intended for an audience already familiar with the historical effects of agricultural land use on the environment during the Dust Bowl. As viewers turn their attention toward current research, they reconsider the lessons of the past, and make connections between these ideas and current crises facing Kansas.

Dooley said, “The students were assigned to make the panels look like they were magazine spreads, layouts that tell a complete story in two side-by-side pages.”

An important part of the project was for each team to design information graphics that would quickly and easily communicate the researchers’ discoveries.

The six teams of four students used period art and photography as well as photographs taken by Larry Schwarm, an artist commissioned by the Spencer and BACC:FLUD for this project. He has visually documented the conditions under which agriculture occurs in Kansas today. The students also incorporated period artworks and photographs from the collections of the Spencer Museum of Art at KU and Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at K-State.

Copy for the posters was written and edited by the staff of the Spencer Museum. The content was culled from historic and recent interviews, survey responses and other research data collected by the BACC:FLUD team. The students also received guidance from Spencer staff on the specifics of designing for museum settings.

The panels are currently on view in the main hallway of the Spencer Museum of Art until Dec. 15 in conjunction with an exhibition related to KU’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “The Worst Hard Time,” a history of the Dust Bowl authored by Timothy Egan.

Additionally, each of the panels and a photograph of the Spencer Museum Installation can be seen at the Design Department’s Behance page, or at the Spencer’s website

Smaller versions of the panels will be displayed at the Kansas NSF EPSCoR conference Monday, Oct. 7, and Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Oread Hotel. They also will be featured at the annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water, slated for Thursday, Oct. 24, and Friday, Oct. 25,  at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Manhattan.

Kate Meyer — curator of the “Conversation XV: Dust exhibition at Spencer,” project lead for “1 Kansas Farmer,” and member of the BACC:FLUD research team — will discuss art inspired by the Dust Bowl  from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2, in the Spencer Museum of Art auditorium. The iconic images she will discuss chronicle and bring to life a devastating episode in American history, its aftermath and its memory. The students’ panels will be included in the discussion.

Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

Get tickets: MT @liedcenterks : Insights on "Kiss the Fish" from Anthea Scouffas:
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (, associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

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