You may have noticed that since the Center for Student Life renovations began in the library, we have had a lot of changes in the art displayed in the library. Some new pieces have arrived, and other old favorites are back on the walls. For the first time, Special Collections is displaying artwork in its new reading room/classroom.
Two of these paintings are by Olof Grafström, a well-known Swedish-American artist and long-time art teacher at Augustana. Jonas Olof Grafström was born on June 11, 1855, in Attmar, Medelpad, Sweden, into a well-to-do farming family. Grafström immigrated to Portland, Oregon in June of 1886. He painted portraits and landscapes influenced by Swedish motifs, as well as frescoes and religious pieces. He was awarded medals in several art competitions, and sold many of his paintings in exhibits. From 1893 until 1897, Grafström taught in the art department of Bethany College, Kansas. Grafström came to Augustana in the fall of 1897. He was extremely productive while at the college, painting between two and three hundred pieces. Most of these paintings were altarpieces for Augustana Synod churches in the Midwest, but Grafström continued to paint landscapes and portraits, as well as riverscapes. He painted a number of images of the Augustana campus, two of which are currently hanging in Special Collections. Since one of the foci of Special Collections is Augustana history, we are especially happy to be able to display these paintings.
Almost all art displayed on the Augustana campus in part of the Augustana College Art Museum collection. The library is grateful that we have the opportunity to have so much of it in our building. More information about the art museum can be found here.