Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Creativity unleashed at Bethany, my alma mater January 14, 2013

TYPICALLY, COLLEGE ALUMNI magazines hold my interest only long enough to thumb to the section where class updates are printed. I read those and then toss the publication into the recycling bin.

But recently, the bold, artsy cover of the November issue of the Bethany Report, the alumni magazine of Bethany Lutheran College, caused me to take a closer look at an article detailing the school’s new media arts program. I’m a Bethany grad, which in 1976 offered only a two-year associate arts degree to undergraduates.

Today this scenic hilltop campus in Mankato offers an array of four-year degrees, including one in communications, my eventual major at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Oh, how I wish majors and minors had been available back in my Bethany years, because I loved that small Christian college.

All of that aside, today’s Bethany students with an interest in communications, the fine arts and technology can enroll in the media arts major. I don’t pretend to know how Bethany’s program compares to that of other colleges.

I did my own editing on this recent photo of a Bethany billboard along U.S. Highway 14.

I did my own editing on this recent photo of a Bethany billboard along U.S. Highway 14.

But when I saw that magazine cover design emphasizing the media arts program and then an equally vivid, eye-catching billboard along U.S. Highway 14 near Janesville recently, I was impressed enough to visit the BLC website.

There I clicked onto a portfolio showcasing the creations of current and former students.

I’m no expert on the fusing of art, technology and communication. But I liked what I saw. And perhaps that uninformed spontaneous reaction counts for more than the dissected opinion of anyone in academia.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


15 Responses to “Creativity unleashed at Bethany, my alma mater”

  1. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    I often bike ride by/through the campus, almost daily when I bike outside. I was once a guest speaker in a class there about my fibromyalgia and about chronic pain. I received less than a gracious response from two of the students. I had a very hurtful incident there once attending the opening of an art show by a man I thought was a friend. None of this has anything to do with Bethany, but it is what comes to mind for me when I think of Bethany.
    My son produces computer games. He works with programmers, technicians, graphic artists, creative writers, etc. He is the producer and has a degree in archaeology. It is all a very unstable industry. He has done many sorts of games, including for the military, the computer simulations that help train them. He has worked in Mpls, Plymouth (four companies), Hopkins, San Diego (three companies), Palo Alto, and now Seattle. So he he has worked with many people. Only the programmers are likely to have real training for their job. Most of the artists are self taught or have some other degree not in their field.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I appreciate your honesty, Clyde, and am so sorry for those two negative experiences at Bethany. I’m not quite sure how to respond except to say that my two years at Bethany were fantastic.

      As for the computer industry/profession, yes, I suspect it certainly is fluid. And when it comes to a job that requires creative skills, well, we both know how challenging that can be to find and maintain employment. It sounds like your son has done quite well as a producer of computer games, with an archaeology degree.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        Why did I even bring it up? Weak moment, very bad day here. Sorry. As I said, it had nothing to do with the institution, just people.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        You are entitled and I appreciate honesty, so no need to apologize. How we are treated by people can, indeed, influence our image of a place. That is something we all need to keep in mind.

        I hope your day gets better.

  2. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    My wife and I play a game of guessing, when we see a college student, which of the four colleges the student, or students because they are usually in a group, attends. MSU students are a much more divergent group, being so large a population, but a certain group of them, the party group, shall I say, are the easiest to spot. Most GAC students are identifiable. The SC College kids on the whole are identifiable. We cannot put a finger on the Bethany kids.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Now that’s interesting. I wonder why.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        I call myself the amateur anthropologist. One of the things that catches my eye is how people make themselves look like their group. In N. Ireland, for instance, the Catholics and the Protestants can instantly recognize each other by dress, hair style, carriage. There is a clear dress code at GAC. Describing it always gets me in trouble but it is there. The party group at MSU, well, I bet you know what marks the males and the females. The SC students look like students going to school on more of a shoestring. The really look much like the young adults not going to college, they work the same jobs. Then there are the MSU kids who are going to college, attending to their lives, have their group, but are not part of that larger party culture. I think they and the Bethany students blend into one for us. We do ask by the way to align our perceptions with reality. We are often wrong but more often right.I am not sure how much the Bethany students leave the campus.
        Now Northfield, ah, there’s no problem at all knowing which college a student attends. My daughter had two dear friends who were also close. One went to Carleton and one to St. Olaf. In four years they never got together at college.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        You nailed it. For the two years I attended Bethany, I did not get off campus all that often. Back then most students did not have cars, so you had to walk everywhere, which for me was mostly to Happy Chef (for the small loaf of bread with powdered sugar icing) and The Hiding Place, a then Christian coffee house on a corner of Warren Street (to volunteer). I’m sure that is long gone.

        Your remark about the Oles and the Carleton students is quite interesting. I can always pick out the college kids in downtown Northfield, too. But I have not watched them enough to discern the difference b/n how students from each college dress. Care to enlighten?

  3. Love it – thanks for sharing:) Happy Monday!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The artsy billboard just really stands out to me among all the other billboards that clutter our highways.

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    I find that so many of the colleges have changed over the years with regard to their offerings. I know it’s in response, in part, to social/cultural/employment need changes but, sometimes, I wonder what happened to taking some fundamental classes, assimilating them and creatively presenting them in our own personal “package” that is totally unique. In school I was advised to decide what job/position I want and which company(ies) would fill the ‘bill’ then go after them (don’t wait for the “help wanted” notice in the paper). Not so much today, though (at least as far as I have knowledge).
    Anyhow, that is a bit “far afield” from the lovely post you presented….hehe!

  5. Beth Ann Says:

    Wow—looks like it has come a long way since you were there and how wonderful is that? The art looks amazing. I know my alma mater has changed dramatically and when I took my mom there last fall she was incredulous at the changes that had happened. The campus looks so different and the building where I spent most of my time is gone as well as the social work major I received there but all kinds of new things are in place instead. Progress, i guess!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I need to return to Bethany as it’s only a 40-mile drive from Faribault. Yet, I have not been there in decades. Many new buildings have gone up and certainly, with the addition of four-year degrees, the academic changes have been major. My two years there were great faith and friend-building years.

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