Luther College Chips

Local artist presents: “Winn Co Op” exhibition

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Community member’s discuss Luke Severson’s gallery near the cinder block wall piece.

Community member’s discuss Luke Severson’s gallery near the cinder block wall piece.

Gillian Klein (‘20) | Chips

Gillian Klein (‘20) | Chips

Community member’s discuss Luke Severson’s gallery near the cinder block wall piece.

Gillian Klein, Volunteer Writer

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As a child, Decorah native Luke Severson used to sled down the hill behind Korsrud Annex before it was constructed. Now the Instructor of Ceramics at University of Nebraska-Omaha, Severson returned to Decorah to present a collection of sculptures called “Winn Co Op” in the Kristin Wigley-Fleming Fine Arts Gallery in the Center for the Arts (CFA).

The gallery opened on March 30 for Decorah community members, Luther faculty, and students to enjoy. Outside the classroom, Luke Severson is the owner/operator of Morelic, an art-focused contracting consulting company in object design and production.

Severson’s display was not originally designed specifically for Luther. However, Severson’s ties to Decorah are the primary inspiration behind “Winn Co Op.”

“Most of my work is quite nostalgic as I was born and raised in this town,” Severson said.

All the sculptures on display at Luther represent symbols of hard work and labor and how culture manipulates those symbols. Severson creates displays that showcase his relatable symbolism. According to Severson, his goal is to draw viewers in.

“I don’t use my art to create a statement or expect viewers to take anything specifically from my art,” Severson said. “My art is in a gallery and is there to be looked at and approached, that’s about as far as I go with my work.”

The journey leading to his display at Luther was not so simple.

“I found myself finishing college with a degree I had no idea what I was going to do with,” Severson said. “I was working in the industrial technology department at the University of Northern Iowa and I had access to all of these tools and equipment I had never had access to before. I realized I was not an engineer making something for a purpose. I just wanted to make something.”

As a part of this creative process, Severson designed the display using canoes, vases, swords, and even a pegboard. One of Severson’s most notable key pieces on display is a cinder block wall. 

“There were fewer items than I expected but this adds more significance in a way,” community member Matthew Andreas said. “All of  the objects are quite commonplace but this draws viewers in. It makes viewers ask ‘why?’”

The display only consists of four pieces composed from varying everyday objects. This is a smaller number of showpieces than what is typically displayed in the gallery. Andreas said that the simplicity works well for Severson.

“Most of my work is serendipitous,” Severson said. “At the time I began constructing my pieces, President Trump was talking about building a wall. My work is times influenced by the news and world around me.”

Campus and community members can view Severson’s gallery display in the CFA until April 19.

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