Visitors to the Parks Library are immediately struck by the mural, Prairie Sky, located on the west wall of the entrance lobby. Painted in 2004 by artist Kurt Anderson, the Prairie Sky mural was commissioned to celebrate the legacy of Dr. W. Robert Parks, the 11th president of Iowa State University. At the time of his retirement in 1986, Dr. Parks was one of the nation's longest serving university presidents and is remembered as a visionary leader who changed the landscape of the university. He passed away in 2003.
Kurt Anderson, an Iowa-born artist now living in Tuscon, Arizona, also painted the portrait of William Robert Parks and Ellen Sorge Parks which hangs outside the Fireplace Reading Room on the first floor of Parks Library.
The incredible contrast in moods of Iowa sky and weather is the theme of Prairie Sky. At dusk a storm passes across an expansive rural setting. The immense power and threat of nature is depicted with billowing thunderhead clouds that throw off lightning and cast a dark pall over the land. But as is often the case in Iowa, the storm quickly passes. In its wake the sky appears especially tranquil and beautiful, as the scattering clouds capture the last rays of the setting sun.
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