Cheryl Ward ’57

By Carolyn Preul

Photos by Kaci Smart ’09

This story appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of Affinity Magazine. Click here to check out the complete magazine.

Not unlike the senior artist showcases of today, it was tradition for a Christian College senior art student to create a piece of work for the college’s collection. In 1956, Cheryl Elbe Ward ’57 thought she would be the last of her 12 classmates considered for this honor.

Art professor Sid Larson had a special project in mind and charged Ward with the semester-long assignment of researching and painting what was to become a piece of the college’s history.

“When I told Mr. Larson I wanted the subject to be a history of the college, he beamed,” Ward says. “He was a friend of painter Thomas Hart Benton and often spoke of Benton’s unique artistry with historical murals. Also, Allean Lemmon Hale ’33 — mother of my classmate and fellow art student, Suzanna Hale — was set to soon publish “Petticoat Pioneer,” a history of the college.”

Old photographs, letters and vintage clothing found in forgotten storage rooms provided Ward with the inspiration she needed to complete the 11-foot wide oil on canvas. While the piece hung in Missouri Hall through the mid- 1970s, today it has found new life in Dorsey Hall leading to the Columbia College Archives.

“The painting itself is unremarkable, but I believe the historical value is still relevant” Ward says. “That history is the underpinning of Columbia College today.”

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