New exhibit at The U showcases a ‘State of Wonder’

VERMILLION, S.D. -- South Dakotans live in a state of wondrous beauty and Paul Schiller, a 1969 USD graduate, wants the public to experience it through his eyes and through his camera lens.

Schiller, best known as a founding partner of Lawrence & Schiller, a Sioux Falls marketing firm he launched in 1976 with fellow USD alumnus Craig Lawrence, contributed 42 pieces of his extensive photography collection for "State of Wonder," a permanent exhibition in the Al Neuharth Media Center at The University of South Dakota.

The artwork was installed at the end of August, just in time for the start of USD's fall semester. Schiller said he is "honored and humbled" for the opportunity to display his passion for photography but he also is a little guarded when talking about the exhibit’s longevity.

"The word 'permanent'… that's the hardest part," he admitted. "It's going to be up for a long time, so it better be good."

Using panoramic, wide-angle, telephoto and macro photography to re-imagine scenes that often are overlooked by South Dakotans and visitors alike, "State of Wonder" captures the beauty and uniqueness of South Dakota from border to border. Schiller’s exhibit is all about South Dakota, whether it’s aerial photographs of landmarks such as Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial or images that offer a new perspective to the state’s scenery, such as its plains, rolling terrain, rivers, Badlands, the Black Hills, vast sky and dramatic weather.

"It tells a story," said Schiller, who became interested in photography as a USD student when he was photo editor of The Volante. The exhibit "dispels the myth that South Dakota is dull, flat and boring."

Schiller said the exhibit was proposed to him by Jack Marsh of the Freedom Forum, which operates the Al Neuharth Media Center. After discussing potential costs and settling on a timeframe, Schiller selected the images and made the prints.  He can't decide which of the 42 photographs is his favorite, adding "it depends on the day," he said with a smile. The project is funded with donations from several South Dakota businesses and individuals.

"State of Wonder" is on exhibit 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, on the second floor of the Al Neuharth Media Center, 555 Dakota St., Vermillion.

A photograph of Schiller (left) with Chuck Lubbers, chair of the Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism at USD, is available for download at www.usd.edu/urelations/images/State_of_Wonder.jpg.