4. Four Seasons Benches

Artists: Lori Charest and Student Work

Four Seasons Benches

The student-designed Four Seasons Benches were created beginning in 2008 through an M State Excellence Grant. Participating students were asked to design a bench representing each of the four seasons for the two-year project, with one bench created each semester outside of regular classroom studies.

Joe Hjelmstad designed the first bench, Fall, to capture the essence of the season, when the ground is covered by leaves.

The second bench, Summer, was created by Sam Norman. The oranges and reds of the sun convey the heat of the summer and contrast with the blue of the sky.

Cortney Stewart designed Spring, with a dragonfly added to the tulips that blanket the bench.

The final bench, Winter, was designed by Haley Frost and Amanda Duhon, with inspiration from the 2010 Winter Olympics and traditional Minnesota winter activities.

The frames of the benches were made from the uprights of the old campus tennis courts. The design and welding were done by M State alumnus Steve Jaenisch, a member of M State’s first graduating class in 1962 and a well-known Fergus Falls metalworker who also created the sculptures that stand outside the Otter Tail County Historical Society and the Fergus Falls Fire Department.

Hjelmstad made the wooden tops supporting the tiles.

A group of students dubbed The Tile Club, led by ceramics instructor Lori Charest, met one afternoon a week to cut out and clean the tiles, then paint on the glaze before the tiles were glued to the bases and grouted.

The original plan was to place the benches outdoors on the cement pad outside the campus ceramics studio, but concerns about vandalism and the elements led to their placement in Legacy Hall.

Tile Club members, in addition to the bench designers, included Andrew Johnson and Tyler Zimmerman.