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An eye on the environment leads Ediger to create new art form

October 2nd, 2022

Glowing Prairie by Glen Ediger

“Environmental Exposure,” now in the Regier Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center, represents what is very likely a new genre – pieces of metal or wood on which the environment has created the design.

Glen Ediger’s exhibit opened Sept. 30 and will be up through Oct. 21.

Ediger, of North Newton, retired in 2015 after 30 years as director of design at Vornado Air, where he was involved in the design, engineering and development of Vornado products.

He was born and has lived his whole life in Harvey County, graduating from Buhler High School and Bethel College with a degree in industrial arts.

An inventor listed on scores of patents, Ediger has always had wide-ranging interests, including history, cars, motorcycles, antiques and Mennonite ethnic foods.

He’s the author of Leave No Threshing Stone Unturned, about the history and provenance of threshing stones in Mennonite (and other) communities, and Hoffungsau – A Hopeful View, a history of Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church in rural Inman.

A few years ago, Ediger observed how pieces of scrap metal that had sat a long time on top of a rusted-out car created striking impressions.

He wondered, “Could this be an art form?” He began arranging materials on metal himself, leaving it outside to see what prolonged exposure to the elements would create – and the answer was: “Beauty.”

“I set up a composition, so that over a period of time – weeks to months to a year – the environment, including rain, snow, ice, sun, animals and accumulated debris, creates an exposure on the medium, which may include steel, copper, aluminum, wood, bronze or other flat materials.

“The aesthetic of the art is actually created by the interaction with nature. I only set up the exposure, and with no manipulation, nature does the rest.”

He adds,I am not aware of any other artist doing anything like this. I believe it to be completely unique.”

Considering his philosophy of the work, Ediger says, “Everything we do leaves an impression. Our actions, whether intended or not, create an effect on our environment and on our relationships.

“My art form is an expression of that effect. It intends to expose, both literally and figuratively, the effects of our actions, by creating a patina with rust and decay on the medium, literally creating the art on the exposed material.”

Rachel Epp Buller, professor of visual arts and design at Bethel and Regier Gallery coordinator, says, “We’re so pleased to be showing Glen’s art at Fall Fest. I think a lot of alumni will be interested in the process of how he’s making this work.

“We’re also thrilled that he has offered to donate half of his sales back to the Bethel art department.”

“Environmental Exposure” is in the Regier Gallery through Oct. 21.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #14 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges,” and #24 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of “Best Regional Colleges Midwest,” both for 2022-23. Bethel is the only Kansas college or university to be named a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.