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July 22, 2012

Alumna’s painting donated to DWU by friend, fellow student

Photo courtesy of the Dakota Wesleyan University Archives
Marilyn Sunderman, who attended DWU from 1953-55, poses in front of one of her paintings in this archived photo.

MITCHELL — It’s been more than 50 years, but Marilyn Sunderman is still making an impression at Dakota Wesleyan.

Lila (Lee) Ptak, of Huron, formerly of Mitchell, donated Sunderman’s painting, “Breeze Among the Flowers,” to DWU last week. The artwork was painted circa 1999.

Sunderman, originally of La Sueur, Minn., attended Dakota Wesleyan from 1953 to 1955. Ptak and her late husband, Jerry, both DWU graduates of the late ’50s, remained close friends with Sunderman throughout her life and received several of her paintings and drawings as gifts, but Jerry Ptak actually purchased “Breeze Among the Flowers.”

Sunderman graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1958 and earned her living as a professional artist. She traveled the globe painting landscapes, flowers and people, including portraits of George McGovern and her uncle, Sen. Francis Case, both of which are hanging within the McGovern Library on campus. She also did portraits of many famous individuals like John F. Kennedy, a Kuwait princess and multiple others around the world. She lived for many years in Hawaii, where she painted the History of Hawaii – a 65-painting series – and opened her own gallery, until selling everything in 1986 to begin traveling again.

Ptak and her daughter-in-law, Stephanie Ptak, presented the painting to DWU archivist Laurie Langland on Tuesday, July 17.

DWU holds other artworks by Sunderman as well, including “I Butterfly,” “The Awakening,” “Boy & Fish,” “Einstein,” “Golda,” and “Sunshine Blues.” Sunderman died December 2000.

Courtesy photo

At far right, Lila (Lee) Ptak ’57, of Huron, formerly of Mitchell, stands next to the painting “Breeze Among the Flowers,” by Marilyn Sunderman. Ptak’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie Ptak, is on the left and accompanied Lila to Dakota Wesleyan July 17 to donate the painting to the DWU collection. It is an original oil painting by Sunderman, who attended DWU 1953-1955 and became a professional artist. Sunderman died in 2000.

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Last updated: 7/24/12