Who the Heck Was Jim Falck?

ANTHONY FARIS | PHOTO COURTESY
In its most recent exhibition, “Exemplar: Jim Falck,” the Memorial Union Gallery examines and celebrates Jim Falck and the students impacted by his endowment.

Through Oct. 11, the NDSU Memorial Union Gallery celebrates the life and legacy of Jim Falck in their “Exemplar” exhibition.

Falck graduated from North Dakota State in 1953 with a degree in architecture. But his passion was always in the arts. He started painting, creating an extensive collection of artwork over decades. In 1991, post-retirement, Falck returned to NDSU and received his degree in art.

When Falck died in 2013, he left $3.6 million as part of an endowment for the NDSU visual arts department.

This endowment created multiple opportunities for NDSU visual arts students over the following years: welcoming visiting artists to enhance student learning of the professional field, offering the opportunity for students to travel to Italy, expanding program development including funding for a digital fabrication lab, offering scholarships for visual arts students, establishing an extensive library for student research and much more.


“Part of an endowment is to not only grow and adapt and change, but keep the value systems of what that endowment was established for,” Faris said. “Which is basically creating opportunities for students to be successful, both in school and outside of school.”


“His endowment has been really effective in changing the scope of what visual arts can do,” Anthony Faris, the Memorial Union Gallery curator and coordinator, said.

Faris went on to explain that, when he first came to NDSU as curator, the first exhibition he experienced was centered on Falck. When planning this year, Faris wanted to examine how Falck’s impact has expanded, grown or changed in the five years since his original gift.

“We wanted it to be sort of a retrospective of what’s been happening the last couple of years,” Faris explained. “And I think we should probably do this every couple of years to show how things have been growing and changing.”

The exhibition is in two parts: one half of the exhibit is a sampling of Falck’s work over his lifetime; the other half is examining his impact, including pieces from some of the students who have received scholarships as part of the Jim Falck Scholarship for the Arts or who were in some way impacted by what opportunities his endowment has created for the university.

One of these students is Taylor Manoles, who graduated with a degree from NDSU in 2017.

Manoles received the Jim Falck Scholarship for the Arts, writing for the exhibition, “Receiving this scholarship helped to defray a portion of my college expenses and allowed me to focus more time and energy into my art, as opposed to a part-time job.”

“Part of an endowment is to not only grow and adapt and change, but keep the value systems of what that endowment was established for,” Faris said. “Which is basically creating opportunities for students to be successful, both in school and outside of school.”

Another example of Falck’s incredible impact is that his endowment funded the creation of a new digital fabrication lab in the visual arts department. Students can now create and experiment with concept design, allowing them to create portfolios leading to professional opportunities and development.

Alaki Ajang, a Memorial Union Gallery assistant and civil engineering and art student, said, “I would say that (the connection between Falck’s work and the student’s work is) they have an integrity about them. There’s a stylization that they have that you know it’s their work when you see it.”

“Exemplar: Jim Falck” will be on display through today, Oct. 11.

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