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By Michelle Westlund '83, senior content specialist
February 13, 2020 | 10 a.m.
On a summer Monday in July 1972, Don and Florence Johnson were out picking raspberries. Driving home with a vehicle full of berries, they were involved in a car accident. As their car came to rest, they were horrified to discover Don covered in what they thought was blood. But as they looked more closely for injuries, they realized he was drenched in raspberry juice from the crush of hundreds of berries. They laughed in relief and thanked God for His protective hand.
The Johnsons lost their raspberries in the accident, but acquired some unexpected funds as a result. As longtime friends of the Bethel art department, particularly some art faculty, they decided to fund an art scholarship: the Raspberry Monday Scholarship Award. For many years, the Johnsons chose to remain anonymousonly decades later were these generous patrons of art identified by name. Their legacy is now firmly a part of Bethel's Department of Art and Design, as the Raspberry Monday award has annually recognized the excellence of student artists for more than 40 years.
In its long history, the scholarship has been awarded to more than 70 art and design majors who exemplify excellence in studio work and contributions to the department. "The art faculty selects student recipients based on their overall contributions," says Wayne Roosa, University Professor of Art. "These include strong art making, student leadership, a spirit of helping, and total involvement and commitment." In addition, to publicize and celebrate the scholarship's awarding, the department hosts an annual Raspberry Monday Exhibition, where student works are judged on originality of idea, strength of handling, and execution of the visual language in a given media.
The exhibition provides an opportunity for students to be involved in a juried exhibition and to be assessed by an outside juror who provides perspective on their work from an outside arts professional. It teaches skills such as self-motivation, independent presentation, and intelligent self-editing as students prepare for and participate in the exhibition. In addition, several outstanding student artworks submitted to the exhibition each year are purchased by the Department of Art and Design for the Bethel University Permanent Art Collection.
The long-ago impact of a car and hundreds of raspberries has created a lasting impact at Bethel. "Raspberry Monday sets a very public bar for the high achievement and qualities that faculty look for in our best students," says Roosa. "It rewards students who believe in contributing and in excellence of making and giving. It inspires younger students who see the award presentation during the exhibition. And it gives strength to our graduates' resumes as they apply for graduate school or positions in the design and creative industries."