Historic and sacred, the Prairie Church exhibit of Preservation North Dakota is hosted by North Dakota State University. This free exhibit was put on display Oct. 6 and will remain in the NDSU Memorial Union Gallery Shop, located on the second floor of Memorial Union, until Oct. 28. 24 panels with text and photos line the clean white walls of the gallery, informing those of the cultural and spiritual history this region has to offer. Preservation North Dakota hopes that a stained glass window or an antique church pew will accompany these photographs in the exhibit before the exhibit is displayed elsewhere.
The polished wood flooring creates an organized and respected environment which “communicates a sense of spirituality in such a sacred space,” said Ester Hockett, the Gallery Coordinator. Hockett believes this exhibit is special, and the photography is excellent.
The documented texts printed below the picture provide a story, and the artistic form shows the culture of the immigrants who settled them. The church architecture varies from Gothic to Romanesque, which is “interesting visually and is elaborate,” according to Hockett. The intricate structures distinguish the power of belief to these immigrants.
Symbolizing international relations, this exhibit portrays the difficulties and hardships the immigrants faced when building these churches. Importing the stained glass windows from Italy, the local immigrants discovered ways to improve their sacred places of worship. As the plains of North Dakota are flat, all the wood was imported. The immigrants transported trees from around the Midwest by wagon to create their churches. This local history shows how the native inhabitants of North Dakota and Minnesota explored the international world in hopes to better their beliefs.
Sarah Campbell, a music major on campus, compared the art exhibit to her music.
“The photographed churches remind me of the music we sing in Cantabile,” she said.
Intrigued by the history photographed in each of the frames, Campbell recommends visiting this exhibit to learn and experience the local culture.
The art exhibit is gathering interest from those on the NDSU campus, as well. Nathan Bailey, an art major there, recommended keeping an open mind about the exhibit, saying that everyone looks at art differently and “someone might see it as an exploration.”
This traveling Prairie Church exhibit portrays local spiritual history in a peaceful environment. The Memorial Union Gallery Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.