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Verschoor honored with day, two pieces

Lynn Verschoor
Retiring director Lynn Verschoor stands between two new artworks added to the South Dakota Art Museum collection in honor of her 20 years there. The Dec. 13 ceremony also included a proclamation from Brookings Mayor Keith Corbett. Verschoor’s official final day Saturday.

Two new permanent pieces to the South Dakota Art Museum were unveiled and Dec. 13 was proclaimed Lynn Verschoor Day by Brookings Mayor Keith Corbett as the public congratulated Verschoor on her 20 years as museum director.

The new pieces are from South Dakota artists Grete Bodøgaard and Keith BraveHeart and will be on display at the museum throughout December.

Addressing a full gallery, South Dakota Art Museum Advisory Board President Pat Meyer said, “In the fall, the advisory board decided the best way to recognize Lynn was through two new art acquisitions. With the knowledge and expertise of our staff, they chose two South Dakota artists who are personal friends of Lynn’s.

“We reached out to the (museum’s) art guild and they joined us in gifting one of the two pieces and current and past board members and a small group of Lynn’s friends contributed to the purchase of the other piece. We thank all of you for contributing to these new acquisitions.”

Bodøgaard’s piece is a 1986 mixed fiber weaving entitled “Badlands” and speaks to the time the artist lived in western South Dakota. Like Verschoor, Bodøgaard was a weaver. The renowned Norwegian textile artist immigrated to Vermillion in 1969 and lived there and the Black Hills before moving to Volin, where she died in 2014.

Bodøgaard’s family gifted a portion of the acquisition cost as a memorial gift and were represented at Friday’s unveiling by granddaughter, Katherine Heikes, and son, Eirik Heikes.

BraveHeart’s piece, “200 Horse Give Aways,” is a 2016 silkscreen and acrylic on canvas. The Lakota artist and community cultivator was raised in Kyle on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and now teaches at Oglala Lakota College. He was recently appointed by Gov. Kristi Noem to serve on the South Dakota Arts Council.

Ginny Weeks, head of the guild, said, “The content of the work, horse giveaways, a Lakota practice of community gift-giving and honoring, is a unique fit for this gift as well, as Keith is appreciative of the work Lynn has done for tribal communities in the state.”

That work as well as outreach to schools and to the Brookings community through the annual international kite festival were among the accomplishments cited in Corbett’s proclamation. Those same thoughts were captured in a special resolution signed by SDSU President Barry Dunn and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge.

The gathering also heard from Kay Cutler, director of the Fishback Center for Early Childhood Learning, who spoke of her efforts to train teachers, aides and museum docents in visual thinking strategies, especially with Camelot Elementary School in Brookings.

The ever-smiling and often crying Verschoor thanked patrons for their generosity and passion for the museum. “You have made my life rich and rewarding. I get up each day with gratitude and thank God for this job,” said Verschoor, who was the curator of exhibits at the Loveland (Colorado) Museum before taking her career post.

The comments were greeted with extended applause and a standing ovation.

A Mitchell native, Verschoor holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and education (1979) from South Dakota State. She also holds master’s degrees in information media and instructional design from St. Cloud State and in fibers from Colorado State University. Her background also includes director of Northcutt Gallery at Eastern Montana College and teaching there.

Jodi Lundgren, coordinator of exhibits at the museum, will serve as interim director while a national search is underway.