Reception will honor Warren Olsen [UPDATED]Published 9:37am Thursday, April 11, 2013 Updated 11:45am Thursday, April 11, 2013
A stroll down any hallway on the Fergus Falls campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College provides a feast for the visual senses — an art experience not found on most college campuses.
Walls are filled with original artwork, and college staff members are proud to display artwork in their offices and meeting spaces.
The campus has long been committed to the idea that art is a profoundly significant aspect of human life in which students, staff and guests should be involved.
For nearly 25 years, Curator Warren Olsen has grown and cared for the college’s art collection of 400-plus pieces. He has acquired, cataloged, displayed and watched over this valuable collection.
In May, Olsen will complete his tenure as the passionate guardian of the M State art collection.
His colleagues will honor his contributions to the campus at a public reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in Legacy Hall, with a program at 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served following the program.
Olsen taught English on the campus from 1968 to 1992 and credits his former teaching colleague, art instructor Charles Beck, with beginning M State’s extensive permanent collection.
Beck encouraged students to leave a work of art for the college. Olsen followed Beck’s tradition of inviting local and regional artists to exhibit their work on the campus and also coordinated the annual Area Invitational Art Show. It became a tradition to purchase the work of exhibiting artists for the college collection.
Olsen has created a culture where the presence of the visual arts is appreciated. Olsen’s knowledge and his keen ability to understand the relationships between space, its use, people and the visual elements in that space is evident across the campus.
Olsen searches out the proper spot for each work of art that comes into his care. There is a special choreography to his way of hanging an exhibit.
He will pace, place and replace. Olsen usually hangs an exhibit during the evening or on a weekend when the campus is quiet and he is alone.
When a new hire arrives on campus, Olsen is among the first to greet her or him and to offer works of art for new office space.
He often changes locations for works of art, just to see if people are paying attention.
Through the visual arts, Olsen makes friends, builds community and teaches us to stop long enough to see and reflect upon the world around us.
Olsen honors our history and reminds us that a steady, strong-minded, daily presence can change the world. The campus is grateful for the contributions he has made.