Evan Richards, only interdepartmental major at Augustana


senior-interdepartmental-major-evan-richardsRichards uses interdepartmental major to unite passions for art, philosophy, business  



Growing up in Le Mars, a small town in northwest Iowa, senior Evan Richards dreamt of becoming a professional baseball player. But Richards soon realized baseball wasn’t for him. With other hobbies including tennis and drawing, he wasn’t sure where his path in college would take him.

Now a senior, Richards has combined his wide variety of interests, making him the only interdepartmental major at Augustana.

Richards began as a business major because of the program’s versatility but, he also realized he had interests in art and philosophy, leading to decisions pursue three different disciplines.

“The interdepartmental major is the most effective way to complete all three majors in four years,” he said.

Although Richards refers to himself as being invested in all three areas, his classmates and professors in the art department still recognize him as an art student.

“You are part of us,” art professor Lindsay Twa told Richards in an art senior seminar class.

Since he was little, Richards knew that drawing interested him. His mom suggested taking a drawing class, so he did. But the first day of drawing class in the spring of his freshman year lead to the most exciting class period he’s experienced in college. His professor, Scott Parsons, gave each student a handmade piece of charcoal and told the class to draw the movement of the tetherball he hung from the ceiling.

“My mom always encouraged me to take a drawing class, but I don’t know if she was aware that the drawing class made her son completely change his major,” Richards said.

Richards had also never painted before his junior year of college. He took his first painting class with art professor Tom Shields and has enjoyed the medium ever since. Richards thinks painting is much more free than graphic design, and it’s a stress reliever for him.

Richards’ paintings focus on abstract expressionism, which is primarily about the way color acts in a given space. Richards also gets his inspiration from landscape sketches. His favorite artist is Richard Diebenkorn.

And with interests in a variety of areas, he has already received a job offer from Sioux Falls’ Fernson Brewing Company to work as their social media coordinator. Starting in February, he will take photos and do graphic design for the company’s social media channels.

“I think art is always one that has gone hand in hand with businesses,” Richards said. “Businesses are always looking at how they can make themselves different to attract new clients and new customers, and I think artists are the best way to help a company stand out because they can look at things from different perspectives that make things exciting, fun and different.”

And although Richards hopes to take on a bigger role with Fernson in the future, he knows he will continue to paint and pursue his other interests.

He may have had to pursue the interdepartmental major on his own, but through his connections in the art department Richards was never alone when it came to doing what he loved most: creating art at Augustana.

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