Tom Snee, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell)
Kinnick on canvas
Kinnick on canvas
Kinnick on canvas
The 70,000-plus fans in the Kinnick Stadium stands couldn’t take their eyes off the field when the Hawkeyes beat the Michigan Wolverines in November.
Except for Elinor Krieger-Coble and Heidi Schickel, who watched almost none of the game. Instead, they stood on the sidelines with sketchbooks in hand, drawing players waiting to get in the game and huddling to stay warm, coaches talking on the bench, the fans in the stands, the marching band and cheerleaders—all the details of a big, loud, colorful Big Ten football game on a chilly autumn night.
Elinor Krieger-Coble (left) and Heidi Schickel, seniors undergraduates in the UI School of Art and Art History, sketch from the sidelines of Kinnick Stadium during Iowa football games. Photos by Tim Schoon.
The two artists were working on a commission of sorts from the UI Department of Athletics. All season, Krieger-Coble attended the Hawkeyes’ home football games to create an exhibit of drawings and paintings about the team. Schickel joined later, just in time to attend the game with the dramatic last-minute upset against the Wolverines, one of the season’s high points.
While other college football teams have team photographers, the Hawkeyes also have team artists.
“We love innovative ideas like this that showcase how athletic department resources can be used as learning opportunities not just by our student-athletes, but by students all across our campus, no matter their field of study,” says Gary Barta, UI director of athletics, who arranged for the project with Steve McGuire, professor of art in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The artists’ work will be on exhibit Jan. 15–21 in Gallery E148 in the Visual Arts Building. Admission is free and open to the public during regular building hours.
Krieger-Coble and Schickel are both senior undergraduate art majors in the School of Art and Art History—Krieger-Coble a native of Mount Union, Iowa, and Schickel from Andalusia, Illinois. Their work reflects very different styles. Krieger-Coble demonstrates early 20th-century impressionist influences, and she applies paint carefully and with precision. Schickel, meanwhile, is more impulsive, with paint slashed and dribbled across the canvas in a more abstract style.
Video by Clarity Guerra.
They approached the project from different directions as well. Krieger-Coble knows athletics well, football in particular. Her brother, Henry, starred for the Hawkeyes at tight end from 2012 to 2015 and now plays for the Denver Broncos, while cousin George Kittle stars for this season’s team. Her mother, aunt, uncle, and another cousin all played various sports for the Hawkeyes, and Krieger-Coble herself seemed destined to play volleyball for Iowa until she injured a knee in high school.
The injury was fortuitous, though, as it forced her to put her life in perspective.
“I realized when I was bedridden for a month that sports aren’t as important to me as art is, and that I’d rather create art than play sports,” she says.
Schickel, meanwhile, knows little about football (“I’m not a big sports person,” she admits) and came to art later in her life. While she enjoyed art as a child, budget cuts forced her Illinois high school to end its art program when she was a sophomore. She majored in physical therapy at first when she came to the UI, but her interest in art was rekindled and she changed her career direction.
The football art of Elinor Krieger-Coble and Heidi Schickel will be on exhibit Jan. 15–21 in Gallery E148 in the Visual Arts Building. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The difference in their backgrounds is noticeable in what captured their attention at the game against Michigan. Schickel sketched fans in the stands, the marching band, the overall view of Kinnick from different perspectives. She was especially interested in the flow of people along the crowded sidelines, the logistics of moving entire ESPN camera crews from one side of the field to the other as they followed a play.
“I decided to go for a more broadly focused idea instead of looking at a specific thing,” Schickel says while working on a Kinnick landscape of the marching band performing at halftime in her studio in the new Visual Arts Building.
Meanwhile, Krieger-Coble is all about the men on the field, as might be expected of someone whose brother and cousin are members of the team.
“I have such a close relationship with so many of them that I want to show them as people, not just football players,” she says. “They’re normal college kids who do this for their work and put their bodies through a lot of stress. I want to remind people that they’re human.”
McGuire says the commission gave the pair an opportunity few student artists have, and he’s pleased with the results.
“They’ve been able to capture the atmosphere and the feeling of being in the stadium in a way that can’t be done in a photograph or watching it on TV, which is what sets a talented artist apart,” McGuire says.