UNEARTHED gallery displays the need for unsung heroes

"What Can't You See", acrylic, charcoal and ink by Sara Redger. The painting is based off of Pavel Weiner.

Lisa Herdman

UNEARTHED: Discovering Heroes in the Classroom is a gallery that intends to help make students aware of the impact they can have on their community, and is on display from June 11 to July 9 in the John R. Adams Gallery in the Art Building on Washburn University campus.

Brad Leduc, an educator and Washburn alumni, created the UNEARTHED project as part of his Masters of Education Capstone Exhibition. Both work from up to three years ago by Leduc and some of his students is featured in the gallery.

The gallery features paintings, sketches, storyboards, video and a lesson plan for teachers to utilize to help students learn about the people around them that have made a difference.

“Educators can have an important impact on their students,” Leduc said. “This exhibit is a reflection of the hard work my students and I have done.”

A main feature of the gallery is the oversized unsung hero portraits, done by Washburn Rural’s AP Studio Art classes. The portraits are inspired by an artist named Chuck Close, who created large, lifelike portraits in the 1960s.

Leduc states in his gallery that the portraits are made by groups to promote communication and to create a work that looks as if it has been created by one person. Each portrait is seven foot by nine foot and made by using charcoal.

Other pieces in the gallery include smaller acrylic paintings done by students in Leduc’s class and a video. These paintings cover topics of unsung heroes that have contributed to history from the last 100 years including Dorothy Buell, David Marine and Kendall Reinhardt. Each includes a statement from the artist and the untold tale of what the subject has accomplished.

The video covers the story of Alice Seeley Harris, a photographer that travelled to the Congo to capture the Congolese and their experiences. Four students, Avery Stratton, Alexis Balaun, Haily Swedlund and Sarah Erickson, created a film, painting and a website on the topic.

The inspiration for this gallery and for the work in the classroom came from an experience Leduc had in highschool – given the task of finding a “hero” to write about. He uses this idea to teach his students about art in the classroom.

Leduc said he didn’t know he wanted to be an art teacher until later in his schooling, but realized his want to teach because of a history teacher in middle school that really had an impact on him. He has been a teacher for 15 years, seven of them at Washburn Rural.

“I want students to collaborate and work on pieces of art together,” Leduc said. “You can learn a lot from each other and figure out where you want to go with your art.”