With new sculpture, Beren Family enlivens campus

"Shockers" sculpture

“Shockers” sculpture

The children of the late Joan Beren – Adam Beren and sisters Amy Bressman and Julie Platt – worked with the Ulrich Museum of Art to commission “Shockers,” a new outdoor sculpture by renowned artist Tom Otterness.

Shockers sculpture
“Shockers” sculpture

Their mother, one of Wichita State’s strongest fine art supporters, believed the Ulrich Museum and especially the Outdoor Sculpture Collection brought distinction to WSU. She gave $1 million from her estate to endow the Joan S. Beren Outdoor Sculpture Conservation Fund, an example of philanthropic giving that is vital to sustaining the Ulrich’s excellence.

The May 12 dedication of “Shockers” drew not only members of the Beren family, but also the artist himself. Otterness, a Wichita native, is well known for his signature cartoonish style. His “Millipede” is located on the WSU campus and his “Dreamers Awake” sculpture stands in front of the Wichita Art Museum.

From left: Adam and Ellen Beren, Otterness, Marc and Julie Platt, and Amy Bressman.
From left: Adam and Ellen Beren, Otterness, Marc and Julie Platt, and Amy Bressman.

“Shockers” depicts two 16-foot-high figures, made of weathered steel, standing side-by-side and surveying a field of real prairie hay bales. One figure holds a scythe. The installation celebrates both the camaraderie and the history of the “Shockers,” the nickname given to students who earned money for college by harvesting wheat during the early days of WSU.

The new sculpture is located south of Duerksen Fine Arts Center.

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