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Art in the BRL

Recently installed light and resin mural entitled Bioquilt by local artisan Reinaldo Correa Diaz.
BIOquilt, 2022
Artist: Reinaldo Correa-Diaz, Iowa State University Assistant Teaching Professor of Architecture & Industrial Design
Medium: Wood, resin, aluminum, prairie biomass, wildlife, LED lighting
Dimensions:162 x 48 x 3 in.

New Art Acquisitions Recently Installed

Join the BRL team on Friday, March 3, 2023 for an art reception from 4:00-6:00pm. The Biorenewables Research Laboratory (BRL) collaborated with several local Ames artisans to produce new artwork for the BRL entryway. Local artisans include:

  • Reinaldo Correa-Diaz (Iowa State University Assistant Teaching Professor of Architecture & Industrial Design)
  • Chris Martin (Iowa State University Professor Emeritus of Arts and Visual Culture)
  • Joe Muench (Iowa State University Professor of Art and Visual Culture)
  •  Ingrid Lilligren (Iowa State University Professor of Art and Visual Culture).

Learn more about the individual works of art:

All In

Biorenewables Research Laboratory Benches: A New Life with a Rich History


Remembering the Unseen

Image of  Jill Euken (left) and Ingrid Lilligren (right) smiling in front of Corvidae Corvus by Katie Ann Palmer
Jill Euken (left) and Ingrid Lilligren (right) smiling in front of Katie Ann Palmer's Corvida Corvus, a 2010 Biorenewables Research Laboratory Best in Show winning artwork.

History of Biorenewables Art Project

In 1996, when Ingrid Lilligren was a junior faculty member at Iowa State University's Art and Design Department and Jill Euken worked as an Extension Field Specialist at the University's Armstrong Research Farm near Lewis, Iowa, they collaborated on a project to create artwork for the farms' new Wallace Foundation Learning and Outreach Center. Little did they know that this beginning of a beautiful friendship would lead to a partnership between the Bioeconomy Institute and the College of Design nearly 15 years later.

When the first wing of the Biorenewables Complex was completed in 2010, the building was devoid of art and that didn't sit well with the two friends. Thanks to their friendship, the Biorenewables Research Laboratory (BRL), home to some of the university's most innovative research, is also a home for some of its most inventive artwork. An art committee of building occupants was organized in 2009; the committee solicited biochar from the College of Design faculty (which are displayed in the BRL office suite), and launched the Biorenewables Student Art Competition which ran annually from 2010 through 2019.

The final phase of the collaborative art program was the Biorenewables Art Innovators Commission, which solicited works from College of Design in faculty in 2021. The works displayed in the BRL lobby are the result of this effort.

Biorenewables Art Competition 2010-2019

Biorenewables Art Competition trading cardThe Biorenewables Student Art Competition was an annual event held from 2010 to 2019 for Iowa State University students enrolled in studio art courses. The competition was the result of a collaboration among Jill Euken, Deputy Director of the Bioeconomy Institute and Ingrid Lilligren and Barb Walton, both professors in Art and Visual Culture, College of Design. Each year, jurors selected artworks for the student art exhibit and awarded cash prizes for best in show, first place, second place and third place. Each Best of Show artwork became a permanent part of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory art collection.

The artwork and exhibit represent the collaborative nature of the building and the research being conducted at Iowa State University. Special thanks to Dr. Robert C. Brown, Co-Director of the Bioeconomy Institute, and Jill Euken for sponsoring the prizes awarded to the winning entries, which are exhibited in the Biorenewables Complex lobby and office suite.

Biorenewables Art Competition Winners

2018 | 2017 | 2016 2015 | 2014 | 2013 |  2012 |  20112010

The Biorenewables Art Commission was made possible by the generous contributions of these donors:

Jill Euken, Dr. Robert C. Brown, Brent Shanks, Euken Farms Inc., Iowa State University College of Design, and Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore

The BRL Art Collection

In addition to the student pieces, the BRL also features artwork from Iowa State University faculty members.

Bean Series by Barbara Walton

 Close up of art

2009-2010, Soy Wax, Pigment on Panel, Twelve Works, 12”x 12” each

These twelve paintings are the result of collaboration between artist, Barbara Walton, Associate Professor of College of Design, and scientist, Dr. Tong Wang, Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Postdoctoral Research Associate, Hui Wang worked with Toni (Tong) and Barbara to make a soy wax that could be suitable as an alternative wax for use in encaustic painting. Encaustic painting is an ancient art form (approx. 500 A.D.), which traditionally utilizes beeswax and pigment. “Bean Series” is work that was created during the first phase of soy wax formulas made in this unique partnership.
Special thanks to Professor, Lawrence Johnson, the Director of the Center for Crops Utilization Research and the BioCentury Research Farm.

Biochar Pieces by College of Art & Design Professors

Close up of art

Professors in the College of Art and Design were given a bag of biochar, a product that results when biomass is converted into bio-oil with pyrolysis, with which to create charcoal image.