Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Mar. 06, 1998

Outreach center at Armstrong farm is open

by Steve Sullivan

The Wallace Foundation Learning and Outreach Center near Lewis, and a ceramic mural created especially for the facility by an Iowa State professor, will be dedicated at a ceremony from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, March 16.

Gov. Terry Branstad, President Martin Jischke, former Congressman and now gubernatorial candidate Jim Ross Lightfoot, and Congressman Leonard Boswell will attend the dedication.

The new learning and outreach center, part of the Armstrong Research Farm, was funded by the Wallace Foundation for Rural Research and Development, a private, nonprofit corporation providing educational opportunities and supporting rural development initiatives in southwest Iowa.

Between 1988 and 1997, the foundation raised $400,000 to purchase the Armstrong Research Farm, and then raised another $1 million to build the learning center. The research farm is operated by the ISU Experiment Station.

The center has offices for extension specialists, experiment station staff, four "incubator" offices for value-added agricultural businesses, and three classrooms, including one equipped for Iowa Communications Network (ICN) telecasts.

A 400-tile mural

The mural, titled "Patterns for Life," was created by Ingrid Lilligren, assistant professor of art and design, and depicts the agricultural landscape of southwest Iowa.

Lilligren was commissioned last year to create a work of art for a curved wall in the learning center's lobby after she had visited the site, studied photographs of strip cropping in a nearby field and built a small-scale model.

"We've received very positive feedback on the mural," said the Wallace Foundation's Jill Euken. "When people walk into the lobby, it's the first thing they see."

Lilligren began the full-scale project in April 1997. An aerial photograph of the Armstrong Farm's strip cropping was the focus for Lilligren's mural design. Approximately 400 tiles were used to construct the mural, and no two tiles have the same size or shape. The tiles are framed by board-and- batten oak and walnut wood trim to mimic patterns in corrugated metal on other walls in the learning center, as well as "to echo the gentle curves of the landscape and the shifting perspectives about preserving natural resources," Lilligren said.

Lilligren's husband, Larry Golden, and three Iowa State design students -- Joe Rohret, Greg Lamont and Garnet Nordine -- helped on the project.

The Wallace Foundation received two dozen entries in a contest to name the mural. Lilligren said the contest was one way to get the community involved in the mural's creation.

The learning and outreach center is located at 53020 Hitchcock Ave., Lewis.

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