Assistant Professor Paul LaJeunesse describes his thought process behind his portrait design. (Cable Photos / Sam Hvidsten)

Painting Commemorates Former President Goodwin

Abigail Blonigen
ablonigen@css.edu

While the College of St. Scholastica’s new president, Dr. Collette Geary, has been settling into her new Duluthian home, Associate Professor of Art Paul LaJeunesse, has been working on a piece to commemorate the former president, Dr. Larry Goodwin.

Goodwin served as the president of St. Scholastica for over 18 years, retiring at the end of June. After his retirement, a committee commissioned an artist to create a work which would encapsulate Goodwin’s influence on campus.

Associate Professor of Art, Paul LaJeunesse, was chosen for the commission, which will be hung in the new health sciences building at Bluestone.

LaJeunesse began the piece as any commemorative piece should be begun: he met with Dr. Goodwin. Goodwin spoke strongly about his experience at St. Scholastica in regard to diversity and inclusive excellence. He also focused on the Benedictine value of Stewardship.

“As he was here longer and longer, he became more aware of his role as a steward rather than a leader,” LaJeunesse said of his interview with Goodwin.

The interview process was the first and most important part of the artistic process.

“I tried to find things that were descriptive of his time here and his personality as opposed to a straightforward picture of him … That doesn’t really show who he is and the effect that he had,” said LaJeunesse.

The painting includes several aspects of Goodwin’s experience and personality. There’s two portraits of Goodwin addressing the students, Tower Hall, of course, the candlelight visage for St. Scholastica’s “Lighting a tradition” ceremony, and Lake Superior. “The lake is really an important thing around here,” said LaJeunesse. “It really changes and affects the culture.”

LaJeunesse incorporated a raven into the painting for its symbolic meaning. The raven is part of the Benedictine tradition in that the bird once stole a loaf of poisoned bread from St. Benedict and saved his life. The raven is also seen as a trickster in Anishinaabe traditions, which LaJeunesse related to education.

“An educator ultimately puts out challenges for students; we kind of trick you. We give you things you don’t know and you have to learn it, figure it out, and move on. It’s the role of the trickster in the current academic culture,” he said.

After pooling all of these ideas together, LaJeunesse created several collages using Photoshop, and Goodwin helped him choose the piece which would ultimately become the painting.

Even the color of paint used was reflective of the former president. “I really tried to get this warm color feel to show the warmth of his personality, the warmth of that experience and the idea of stewardship.”

After countless hours of tinting, shading, and tweaking, the estimated date for the ceremony and dedication of the painting is December 15. It is a great way to remember that tradition never retires.