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On Purpose: Artist's Statement

August 16, 2018
To commemorate our 150th anniversary in 2018, the College of Liberal Arts commissioned 60 photographs taken by Xavier Tavera. Departments and programs partnered with Tavera to envision their images and to write the narratives that accompany each photograph. View On Purpose: Portrait of the Liberal Arts.

Photo of University of Minnesota mascot Goldy Gopher wearing a sparkly jacket leaning against a bannister in side Northrop auditorium
Pictured Goldy Gopher

For 150 years, the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities has been dedicated to teaching and research. Many have dedicated their lives to being relevant in their specific disciplines. In recognition, a series of portraits has been created to represent CLA’s numerous departments through the years.

How can one image successfully characterize a cohort of people with its history? How can we chronicle all the actions and challenges through a single photograph? The photos are not clinical records documenting a person’s features and functions, casual or candid; these are carefully arranged formal portraits.

The project’s success in recollection is only possible through collaboration with each department and the willingness from the subjects. Every single character in this project contributes to an essential part of CLA with their work, their research, and their teaching. My hope is that the series will help honor decades of hard work.