Many Oles have passed this metallic, spiral-like structure located to the west of Steensland Hall on their way to classes, but its origins are somewhat of a mystery. Leonardo Nierman, a Mexican artist focusing on abstract work, created this sculpture “Peace” in 1984. It stands at 12 feet tall and 30 inches wide, and is crafted from stainless steel. The artwork was donated by Dean Buntrock and his wife Rosemarie Buntrock to the College in 2019. Buntrock is a senior regent of the St. Olaf Board of Regents, and has given $26 million dollars to build Buntrock Commons prior to its construction.
According to Jane Becker Nelson, the Director and Curator of the Flaten Art Museum, it was added as part of an initiative to increase the presence of underrepresented artists in the collection. Nierman’s parents immigrated to Central America from Ukraine and Lithuania. Before coming to St. Olaf, the statue was near the entrance of the company Waste Management, Inc.’s headquarters, which Buntrock founded and was CEO until his retirement in 1996. The Advisory Committee for the Flaten Art Museum reviewed several possible locations and selected Steensland after a recommendation from President David Anderson.
Many sister artworks of Peace exist worldwide. Buntrock contributed a similar statue that currently resides in Saudi Arabia, which Buntrock also contributed. Another copy is present in Manhattan. Coalition CultureNow mentions Nierman describes his sculpture as a “flame of hope, or peace, or understanding.” A signed version made of onyx is on sale for $8,500 on eBay as of November 10th, 2022.