VERMILLION, S.D. – An original bust of iconic American writer and environmental philosopher Henry David Thoreau by South Dakota artist Richard Tucker has been donated to the University of South Dakota’s sustainability program by USD graduate and Vermillion, South Dakota resident Mark Wetmore. The donation comes on the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth near Concord, Massachusetts. Wetmore commissioned Tucker to execute the sculpture.
According to Meghann Jarchow, USD assistant professor and coordinator of the sustainability program, the donated piece of art symbolizes the mission and objectives of the program, and will be displayed at the program’s offices on the USD campus.
“Thoreau’s life and work exemplify striving for sustainability – both the environmental and social aspects of sustainability,” Jarchow explained. “Thoreau is well known as providing a foundation for environmentalism, and he contributed to environmental history and ecology.”
Mark Wetmore earned an undergraduate degree from USD in 1971 with double majors in geology and economics, and also earned an MBA from USD in 1972. He traces his admiration for Thoreau to a humanities class he took during his freshman year at USD. “Thoreau’s respect for all life reinforced my own inclinations,” said Wetmore.
“This donation is a modest way for me to thank USD for introducing me to Thoreau, and, more importantly, it recognizes Meghann’s many accomplishments, including developing and expanding the sustainability program. I believe it is important for students to have a sense of the philosophical underpinnings of what they study, and Thoreau is an important founder of environmentalism and the sustainability movement,” said Wetmore.