15. Dragonfly

Artist: Michael Pettit


Michael Pettit’s powder-coated steel sculpture, Dragonfly, hovers 10 feet above ground in the space under the pillars between M State’s Science Building and Student Services Center. It has been displayed there since was it was purchased with funds from the Donald E. Dybdal Fine Arts Fund.*

The sculpture was first exhibited in the 2003 M State Invitational Art Show. The area around the pillars was long a popular outdoor campus gathering spot, and there was a desire to maintain that tradition when a remodeling project connected all the campus buildings and enclosed the pillars. Bringing in an art feature such as Dragonfly was seen as one way to do that. Much care went into its placement to best bring out its colors when it is struck by sunlight.

Pettit said Dragonfly was the first in a series of three similar dragonfly sculptures that were inspired by regional interest in nature-themed pieces for community sculpture walks. His works can also be found at Pioneer Care Center in Fergus Falls and the hospital in Perham.

Pettit’s art career began while he was in college. While earning his mechanical engineering degree, he enrolled in art classes and began working in a stained-glass studio. He ventured into custom automobiles, working at a street rod shop in Pennsylvania, but eventually returned home to Minnesota and purchased the creamery building in Dent, where he had his studio. He began having some success with public sculpture and selling art through galleries, then returned to building cars for his work until he became semi-retired and again turned his focus to fine art.

*The Donald E. Dybdal Fine Arts Fund was created by bequest from the estate of Donald E. Dybdal to Fergus Area College Foundation in 1999 to further enhance the visual arts at M State. The fund has been used to purchase visual art and support educational opportunities in the visual arts.