Artwork dedicated to life and work of former dean

Friday, March 30, 2012

“Sunsh inerain” by Merle Sykora hangs in the Miller Center on campus.

“SUNSHINERAIN,” a double-woven piece of art by Merle Sykora, emeritis professor of art, was unveiled Oct. 25 in the Miller Center in honor of John Berling, dean of Learning Resources from 1977-97.

Sykora created the artwork in 1976 at the Biennial International Textile Machines Exhibition in Greenville, S.C. To commemorate the nation’s Bicentennial, one fiber artist from each state was asked to participate. Sykora was the artist selected from Minnesota.

“The result was never exhibited properly in its three public viewings, and it languished in my studio for 35 years,” Sykora said at the dedication.

As for the name of the piece, “SUNSHINERAIN,” this is what Sykora said: “For me, this piece portrays the paradox of a sunny day with its menacing clouds that spit moisture that often doesn’t reach the ground. John faced the metaphorical ‘rain’ of lots of menacing experiences. People and systems flung discouraging, often arbitrary deterrences to this building. Even though ‘rains’ could be counted upon to recur, they never reached the ground and this building stands as a monument to John’s perseverance.

“Some of us remember a card catalogue and those drawers full of cards. How easily we forget the transition to computer use for locating books. As I recall, SCSU was the first higher education institution in the state to do so. John’s interest in, exploration and usage of technology fueled his desire for state-of-the-art service. The result was this facility becoming a learning resources center rather than just a library. It is for all of his admirable personal traits and professional efficiency that we are here to dedicate SUNSHINERAIN in memory and honor of John Berling.”

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