Prairie Sky Mural

Panoramic view of Iowa sky at sunset - reddish purple sky at the left, blue sky in the center, a thunderstorm at the right

Artist:Kurt Anderson (American, b. 1958)
Title:Prairie Sky, 2004
Media:Oil on canvas
Size:20 feet x 5 feet

The Prairie Sky mural is dedicated to the memory of Dr. W. Robert Parks (President of Iowa State University, 1965-1986) with gifts from family and friends. This public work of art was commissioned by the ISU Library and is in the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University. Accession number U2004.6.

Visitors to the Parks Library are immediately struck by the mural, Prairie Sky, located on the north wall of the Learning Connections Center. 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.

Artist's statement

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.