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David Flaten celebrates his father’s art

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David Flaten, professor of theater arts, presents the work of his father in his Monday lecture, “Celebrating the Word: Arnold Flaten’s Sculp­ture, Archi­tecture, Painting and Stained Glass.” Arnold Flaten, who viewed art as a form of meditation, worked for 38 years at St. Olaf College in Minneapolis, where he built the Art Barn, one of the college’s most distinctive buildings. / photo Warren Bessant

Jesse Evans
Staff Writer

David Flaten, professor of theater arts, conducted a faculty lecture titled “Celebrating the Word: Arnold Flaten’s Sculp­ture, Archi­tecture, Painting and Stained Glass “ Monday in the President’s Dining Room.

An audience of approximately 25 to hear David Flaten share the career work of his father Arnold Flaten.

With around 15 wooden sculptures, seven paintings and six books on hand, audience members got a firsthand glance at the masterpieces that Arnold Flaten created.

“I don’t need to speak. Let my father’s work speak,” Flaten said.

Arnold Flaten has more than 1,000 pieces of his original artwork spread throughout the Midwest in households of friends, family and colleagues.

“Most of my father’s art came out of his meditation,” Flaten said.

“Leaving your art is a record of what you loved in life,” said David Flaten quoting his father.

Most of the sculptures that Arnold Flaten made were made out of wood. In fact, when Arnold Flaten taught at Saint Olaf College, many of his students would send him wood from around the world. The different styles of wood made each piece an original and separate from another one of Arnold Flaten’s wooden sculptures.

“I thought it was unique how his father used nature as his inspiration for his art,” Andrea Naccache, sophomore business major, said.

Arnold Flaten helped construct Saint Olaf College in North­field, Minn.

Some of his work can be found, engraved on pillars, walls or inside buildings throughout the campus.

“I found it fascinating,” said Reed Gratz, professor of music.

“Just look at the pieces here. It’s just astounding. I’m inspired.”

Since all of Arnold Flaten’s artwork could not be present, David Flaten went through a few slide shows of photographs of Arnold Flaten’s paintings, sculptures, engravings and stained glass masterpieces.

The slideshows captured Arnold Flaten’s span of talent in different types of art.

Getting a firsthand glance at his work one could get a sense as to the versatility that he was capable of and the emotions that went into each piece that was presented.

At the same time observers can tell from the slideshows and from the art present how much art meant to Arnold Flaten.

Not only by the creativity of the sculptures, but of the colors used in the paintings and stained glass masterpieces.

One of the future goals that David Flaten has for his father’s work is to create a website. This webpage will include all of his work.

This way it can be seen, and as of now Saint Olaf College would not be connected with the project.

“The website will be more useful than a book,” David Flaten said.

“A colored book will cost more than a website. With a website you can see photos of a sculpture from all the different sides.”

The goal of the website is to attract people to view every piece by Arnold Flaten and to educate students on his artwork.

Lecture notes would be included therefore students could be educated on his artwork.

“He was more into creating inspirational and meaningful pieces such as, “Leap of Faith,” said David Flaten. “Great art is great life.”

Jesse Evans can be reached at

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