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Bob Lind, Published December 22 2012

Lind: Painting inspired by winter night 50 years ago

They’d been invited to a Christmas Eve family gathering near Cooperstown, N.D. So Lorraine Berger, a Fargo art teacher, picked up her brother David Berger, a Concordia College student, and headed out on that biting cold night some 50 years ago.

“The road we traveled was dark,” Lorraine writes, “but when we reached the top of the hill (near the farm) the scene was illuminated by a bright winter’s moon.

“I shared my thought with David that the ice crystals fluttering over that bright light gave the illusion that we were driving into a huge star.”

Lorraine stopped the car so she could make some notes. “Oh, nooooo,” David said, fearing the car wouldn’t start again, they’d be stranded and they’d freeze to death.

He was partially right. The car balked. But on the third try, it started, and the pair made it to the house and the Christmas Eve celebration.

Lorraine could never forget the image she had that evening. So this year, the family letter she sent to family and friends included her copyrighted painting, shown at right, that was inspired by that scene a half-century ago.

Professor emeritus

Lorraine, now of Minneapolis, was born in McHenry, N.D. Her father was a teacher so the family moved around, leading Lorraine to attend schools in Glenfield, N.D., Blackduck and Remer, Minn., Larimore, N.D., and Minneapolis. She earned degrees from the University of Minnesota and then taught in Indianapolis; at Clara Barton Elementary School and Agassiz Junior High School, Fargo, from 1953 to 1959; and at Marshall High School, Minneapolis.

She also taught at Valley City (N.D.) State College, becoming chairwoman of the art department, and then taught at the University of North Texas, Denton. Upon her retirement, she was named an emeritus professor of art at North Texas.

The list of her accomplishments goes on and on. But in summary, she taught for 43 years and impacted some 25,000 students, from kindergarten through post-doctoral.

Her paintings have been part of more than 300 collections, including those she gave to the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, and the North Dakota Historical Museum, Bismarck. Two of her paintings were included in the University of North Texas Founding Art Faculty exhibition, which represents the college’s faculty who developed its art programs.

“In looking back on my career and the lifelong values which, in large part, shaped my life,” Lorraine writes Neighbors, “I am struck by how many of them were fashioned in the small North Dakota churches and public schools we attended.

“Sunday school and summer church school was not an option. It was part of my education as much as attending public schools in the winter.

“I hoped my gifts would be a small way to thank North Dakotans.”

And her painting shown here is her (and Neighbors’) Christmas gift to all of you.

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