University Museums

Title: Walking the Landscape
Name: Mural
Date: 1988
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 72 x 210 in. (182.9 x 533.4 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: An Iowa Art in State Buildings Project originally commissioned for the Black Engineering Building. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Gerdin Business Building
Object Number: U88.82
More Information
The Iowa Art in State Building Projects began at Iowa State in 1982, and by 1988 one of the first public art projects was complete and installed in a second floor corridor of Black Engineering. The fourteen foot mural was commissioned from Keith Achepohl, an artist and professor at the University of Iowa. The engineering faculty commissioned a work of art that expressed lasting human relationships, and the only nod to engineering processes was the stone wall depicted in the mural's foreground. The far-view is a rugged, uninhabited landscape -reminiscent of Afghanistan, a country the artist had then recently visited. The foreground is a cut stone wall with and inscribed man and woman, walking together and other images of caressing hands. These tender, human gestures speak to the character and qualities of civilization, and how people survive and thrive in an inhospitable land-through human love and support.

Recently (2009) campus planning and remodeling in Black Engineering required the removal of the mural to a new location. And on April 1, 2009 the mural was craned from the building and taken to the Gerdin Building, where it has installed on the third level lobby. While most of the Art on Campus Collection works of art do not move about campus, periodically a new location is required, which might also inspire new viewers and new interpretations of the public art.

The idea centers around the concept of wandering the landscaspe, secure in being part of it and passing on what has been gleaned from being part of it. A kind of generative existence. Both are quite literal & I hope poetic way of seeing ourselves as eternal pilgrims, discoverers and transmitters. The landscape would become, in final version, more colorful and reflect changes of season, the figures would become heroic, the hands on right with the landscape reading as heroic from down the hall, inviting participation in the idea of generation. (Some thoughts about the mural by the artist as presented during the proposal stage.)