October 8th, 2021
"Roots and Wings: Our Gifts from Mother Nature," prints by various artists and sculpture by Beth Vannatta, is now on display in the Regier Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center.
Vannatta's vision and passion is also displayed, enhanced by a group of artists who got together to support that vision.
Vannatta, a retired art teacher from Halstead, has devoted her time in recent years to sculpture and to speaking out against war and violence.
A group of printmakers organized as the Springdale Printmakers to create work that supports Vannatta, most concretely by fundraising through print sales.
“Roots and Wings: Our Gifts from Mother Nature” is on display in Bethel’s Regier Art Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center through Oct. 22.
Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri., and 2-4 p.m. Sunday. There is no admission charge.
The exhibit features prints, along with Vannatta’s sculptures.
The goal of “Roots and Wings” is to promote the art of printmaking and recognize the rich visual tradition of the Great Plains region.
The show is traveling through Kansas with the aim to acquaint viewers with regional artists and to make original handmade prints available to the public.
The inspiration for “Roots and Wings” is the Prairie Printmakers, who created nationally recognized exhibits in the United States during the Great Depression.
“Roots and Wings” will serve as both a fundraiser and a promotional tool for Springdale Art and Nature Center.
The latter is another vision of Vannatta’s. She plans to develop her home on the prairie into an outdoor space where her passion for art, education and nature can be shared and preserved.
“Well in the final quarter of my life,” Vannatta says, “I realized if I did not share my knowledge and materials, it would all soon disappear.
“I decided to donate my 48-acre farm, my tools and equipment, my sculpture and my teaching skills to empower the growth of Springdale Art and Nature Center, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.”
In her artist statement, Vannatta continues, “I feel a deep love for humanity and intense distress at man’s inhumanity to his fellows.
“My sculpture consists of three main subjects: beginning of life, end of life, and the suffering of life. War certainly contributes heavily to the suffering and the end.
“I have messages to tell and sculpture is the medium.”
Vannatta taught at Hutchinson High School for 27 years and also taught a Jewelry Design class at Hutchinson Community College for 12 years, while also raising five adopted children.
Since retirement, she has concentrated on her “artistic love,” sculpture – although she began working in the medium while she was still teaching.
Ten of the pieces were part of a tour of the United States Vannatta made about a decade ago, including stops in Santa Fe, Portland, Chicago and Washington, D.C. The Bethel show includes even more pieces than were on the tour.
Springdale Art and Nature Center is located on U.S. Highway 50 just west of Halstead, and Vannatta says visitors are welcome.
“Roots and Wings: Our Gifts from Mother Nature” is in the Regier Gallery through Oct. 22.
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 #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu