Credit Line: Purcahsed by Iowa Art in State Buildings Program. Purchased for the Hub. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Tulip is a flat aluminum sculpture of a green-stemmed yellow tulip. Set on the west side of the Horticulture Building, in spring the painted metal flower plays off of a nearby bed of red and yellow tulips, that along with other spring flowers on campus, signal the end of the academic year and graduation. This simple, bright, and upright sculptural tulip enhances the floral display, and on a cold winter day may cheer passing students with its reminder of spring. This larger-than-life tulip; standing 6 feet and 3 inches, with two upward extending leaves, suggests a strong, upright figure with raised arms making a victorious gesture. Tulip was originally paired with another Strohbeen and Luchsinger sculpture, Rabbit, now missing. Together they were a playful reminder of the age-old battle between gardeners and tulip-loving rabbits.
Tulip, like much of Karen Strohbeen and Luchsinger’s other work, is inspired by their love of nature, the local landscape, and everyday life on their farm in southwest Iowa. As with Tulip, Strohbeen and Luchsinger aim for new ways of looking at nature and often use vibrant colors. They sometimes take a playful approach to their subjects, typically animals or flowers, departing from realism and incorporating non-traditional materials and innovative technology. This interest in integrating nature and innovative technology fits with the mission of department of horticulture and Iowa State.
In addition to sculpture, Strohbeen and Luchsinger work in a variety of other art forms, and beginning in 1970, were among the earliest innovators in digital process printmaking, which they have recently extended to ceramic tile. Their sculpture, printmaking and other art appears in both private and public art collections around the world. They are also known for their PBS televised series, “The Perennial Gardener with Karen Strohbeen,” produced by Bill Luchsinger and have been honored by the Garden Club of America.
Written by Roberta Vann, University Museums Docent