Harvey County artist ready for ‘exposure’

By Joe Stumpe | June 1, 2021

“Everything we do leaves an impression. Our actions, whether intended or not, create an effect on our environment and on our relationships. My art form is an expression of that effect; it intends to expose both literally and figuratively the effects of our actions by creating a patina with rust and decay on the medium, literally creating the art on the exposed material.” ­ — Glen Ediger

NORTH NEWTON — It’s not every day someone comes up with a new genre of art, but then Glen Ediger is an inventor. Among other things.

Ediger thought up the genre — which he calls environmental exposure — a few years before retiring as director of design for Vornado Air. He noticed that a piece of junk rusting on top of an old car left an impression on the metal and wondered if the same principle could be incorporated into artwork.

To make his pieces, Ediger first creates an abstract composition on a medium such as steel, copper, aluminum or wood. He then exposes it to the environment, which could include rain, snow, ice, sun, animals, leaves, etc. He stops the process when the work looks most interesting.

“I don’t know of anybody else who’s ever done this,” he said. “There might be somebody, but I don’t know of any.”

The Carriage Factory Art Gallery in Newton will exhibit 40 of Ediger’s works May 29 through July 17.

A Harvey County native, Ediger majored in art at Bethel College, then went to work for noted industrial designer Richard Ten Eyck. When Vornado was revived as a company in the 1980s, Ediger moved to it.

“That ended up being a 30-year career designing hundreds of products,” said Ediger, who is listed on over 100 U.S. patents.

Asked how he went from being an art major to industrial designer, Ediger said, “I always give the answer: I grew up on a farm.”

Ediger lives here with his wife, Karen. He’s the author of two books: “Leaving No Threshing Stone Unturned,” a history book published in 2013, and “Hoffnungsau — A Hopeful View,” which came out the next year. Hoffnungsau is the name of a Mennonite Church in Newton.

He collects vintage motor vehicles and helped build and crew a car used in a land-speed record at Bonneville. He also finds time to complete a crossword puzzle each day.

“I do what pleases me,” he said. “I kind of bounce all over the place.”