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DWU students to design Palace murals for next three years

Dakota Wesleyan University's digital media and design program has been awarded a three-year contract to design the murals for The World's Only Corn Palace.

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Capt. Deb Bodenstedt of the USS South Dakota (SSN 790) Commissioning Committee speaks during a special dedication ceremony for the 2019 Corn Palace murals on Friday in front of the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Dakota Wesleyan University's digital media and design program has been awarded a three-year contract to design the murals for The World's Only Corn Palace.

DWU students will design the next three themes, including the newly announced 2020 theme, "South Dakota Home Grown."

This announcement follows a successful first year with DWU students designing the 2019 murals, "Salute to the Military," under the direction of Kyle Herges, associate professor of digital media and design at DWU.

"The Corn Palace director approached me last year to see if there was interest among students to participate in this project and we jumped at it," Herges said. "How many design programs get to say their art goes onto a state landmark that is publicized nationwide? This is invaluable experience at their level."

Herges said that students are already at work coming up with designs for next year.

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"Working with Kyle and the Dakota Wesleyan students has been a great experience," said Scott Schmidt, Corn Palace director. "This first year was sort of a pilot year - the Corn Palace has always hired one artist to design the murals and this is definitely the first time we asked students, but you can see they really care about the project. With this year's theme, they really came together to create murals for every military branch and managed to tie many of them to South Dakota. When the murals are complete, I think people are going to be really impressed."

The "Salute to Military" murals are going up now, with two of the largest murals complete. The Corn Palace also did something entirely new this year by formally dedicating the murals on Oct. 26 with community members and veterans in attendance.

"The dedication of this year's 'Salute to Military' murals couldn't have gone better. We had a great turnout and a lot of support from the community," Schmidt said. "I think we've had a lot of special themes in the past, and definitely murals that have amazed, but I think it's safe to say there is something quite special about honoring your servicemen and women. When you couple that with this year's dedication of the USS South Dakota submarine, this year is unique."

There are nine murals in all with the two front-facing murals measuring 20 by 30 feet wide. Last year, Herges incorporated the mural designs into one of his classes but for the next round he has opened it up to all digital media and design students. The process for selection will be the same - the students will present their designs to the Corn Palace Committee for approval - those selected will go on to grace the palace walls beginning next fall.

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