The Strength of the Hills is His Also

The Strength of the Hills is His Also, color woodcut

Orville Magnus Running was born September 19, 1910 in Veblen, South Dakota to the Rev. Alfred Running and Sophia Olsen Running.  His father was a Lutheran pastor and his mother a teacher and musician.  After living in Montana and Idaho, the family moved to Zumbrota, Minnesota in 1925 where he graduated from high school before earning a bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN) in 1931. He graduated from Luther Theological Seminary in 1934 and was ordained in July of that year.

Running served as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Washington, and Christ Lutheran Church in Chicago, where he renewed his interest in art by attending night classes at the Chicago Art Institute. In 1946 he signed a contract with Luther College to "instruct in art and religious education," and for the next 30 years worked as head of the art department to build a viable art program at the college.

In 1950 he earned an M.F.A. degree from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa, Iowa City) where he studied under James Lechay, Stuart Edie, and Mauricio Lasansky, among others. He returned to the Chicago Art Institute during the summer of 1956 to work with Briggs Dyer, and attended the Art Students League of New York during 1956-57.  Along with teaching and leading the Art Department at Luther College, he managed the Fine Arts Festivals, an annual festival for the arts at the College, which extended from 1957-1966.  In 1987 Running was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from St. Olaf College. H

Known primarily for his colorful and highly popular woodcuts, Running is also an accomplished painter and draftsman who has created liturgical commissions in wood and metal, fine calligraphy, and musical/theater backdrops. His work has been shown in many college and university exhibits throughout the Midwest and was included in a traveling exhibition of relief prints organized by the Iowa Arts Council in 1970. For several years his prints hung in the reception room of the American Embassy in Oslo, Norway. He designed the interiors and liturgical furniture for six churches including Rock Creek Lutheran in Nora Springs, IA, and Trinity Lutheran in Spring Grove, MN.

Numerus art works by Running have been reproduced for College Christmas cards and other publications. He designed the meditation chapel in Brandt Hall (now a study room), altars for the Center for Faith and Life, Preus Gymnasium and Valders, and the artwork that is on the planetarium wall in Valders Hall of Science.  He also designed the College's centennial seal and the book jackets for the college histories, Luther College 1861-1961, by David T. Nelson and Stability and Change: Luther College in its Second Century, by Leigh Jordahl and Harris Kaasa.  For 14 years, he supervised the design and construction of the background sets for the annual Messiah concerts (1946-1955; 1957-1960).

There are over 45 works by Orville Running in the Luther College Fine Arts Collection, including several oil and watercolor paintings and numerous woodcuts. Many of the works were acquired by the generous donation of the artist or other benefactors while others were commissioned by the College during Running's long tenure at the school. 

Ref:  Friedl-Putnam, Sara.  "The Talented Mr. Running."  Luther Alumni Magazine.  Vol. 34 (Winter 2001), 47-51.

Luther College Fine Arts Collection

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on July 03, 2009

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