Fulfilling a Dream

Fulfilling a Dream

"Art is the tree of life," according to poet William Blake. And the art and design department at UW-Stout certainly enriches the cultural life of the university. The visitor walking through a door of the new Micheels Hall enters a world that reminds one that while computers have revolutionized our world, art reflects life. Art refines life.

The sounds of singing voices and instruments playing, the smell of paint and clay, entice the visitor into the domain of rich sights and sounds that flesh out what a university is all about.

Though Stout was founded in 1891 and included an art component, it was not until 1965 that the university introduced an actual art department. Then-president William J. "Bud" Micheels believed a strong art program is a valuable aspect of an academic atmosphere.

Micheels graduated from Stout in 1941, and when he came back some 20 years later as president, he had gained life experiences which included an appreciation of cultural endeavors.

"While my undergraduate training (at Stout) had been excellent in the technical subjects, I felt a lack in terms of the humanities," Micheels said in Art, a department newsletter. Micheels had a vision, a "dream" as he called it, that Stout should embrace and reflect and teach that which would give students a broader, richer education and appreciation for areas of life beyond the obvious necessities of basic education.

However, the dream did not come easily. Micheels battled bravely against what he called the "powers-that-be" in Madison who believed that the state could not afford the "fine arts frill."

A great deal of jousting went on, to use his word, and finally culminated in a meeting in Madison. "After several introductory hours against all fine arts, things began to happen in Stout's favor," Micheels said. "In retrospect, I think I gave one of the best rebuttal arguments of my career," Micheels added. "Why can I say that? Because it worked!"

John Furlong, assistant to the president at the time, was instrumental in helping to found the art program and served as acting chair.

Micheels wanted an art department, and he wanted the best Stout could have as fast as possible, according to those who know. He discovered a flamboyant Italian in Duluth, Minn., who was at that time associate director of Duluth's Tweed Museum.

"Bud Micheels made me an offer I couldn't refuse," Orazio Fumagalli said. And Fumagalli began to create an art department.

Outlook Spring '96