Artist Mark Balma's Lasting Impression Work Continues at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis on What Will Be the Largest Fresco in the Country, Covering 1,904 Square Feet

By Michael Fedo, | The Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 1993 | Go to article overview

Artist Mark Balma's Lasting Impression Work Continues at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis on What Will Be the Largest Fresco in the Country, Covering 1,904 Square Feet


Michael Fedo,, The Christian Science Monitor


THE new Hall of Founders at the University of St. Thomas's Minneapolis campus is redolent with the damp, sweetly acidic, odor of plaster. Though sheetrock has long been the standard in contemporary building construction, plaster is being applied only to the arched ceiling of this building, where artist Mark Balma is creating the largest fresco in the United States.

When the 17-by-112-foot ceiling is complete next year, its 1,904 square feet will be more than 1.5 times the size of "Detroit Industry," the 1932-33 panorama that Diego Rivera fashioned for the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Mr. Balma is developing a contemporary allegorical articulation of St. Thomas Aquinas's seven virtues: faith, justice, prudence, hope, temperance, fortitude, and charity.

"The frescoes will be decidedly American, not European," Balma says. "I'm using culture on this side of the world. This work can't be a pastiche of European cathedrals and doesn't have to copy those to be a long-lasting statement."

A cross-cultural thread will run through the St. Thomas panels - from turquoise pigments favored by native Americans to dragons, which are positive symbols to Asians.

As one of only a handful of artists throughout the world who continue to work in fresco, Balma says his affinity for this expression has been lifelong. "As a child I was interested in making large drawings. I always got assignments to draw a three-foot by six-foot picture of St. Anthony or other saints."

Appropriate for a fresco artist, Balma draws inspiration from architectural space. "Fresco humanizes architecture as well as decorates," he says. "It brings together symbols in a building that might otherwise go unnoticed."

But the process of fresco art is tedious and slow. Michelangelo, for example, completed only one square yard per day when painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Balma finished only three of the seven panels this past summer, spending about three weeks on each.

Pausing on his scaffold to explain his project to a reporter and visiting art historian, Balma says everything about the work requires special consideration. Brushes are hand-made, utilizing the hair of wild boars. "The acid in lime dissolves standard brushes," he says. "Fresco isn't painting on plaster. The paint bonds with the plaster." Organic pigments for the work are hand-ground and mixed with water before being applied to the damp plaster surfaces.

"Fresco is a medium of permanence," Balma states. "That's part of what I find appealing about it. A permanent message from one generation to another. Before people were literate or could afford to buy books, fresco was the poor man's Bible. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Artist Mark Balma's Lasting Impression Work Continues at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis on What Will Be the Largest Fresco in the Country, Covering 1,904 Square Feet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.