I still remember playing hide-and-seek with my toddler in Patrick Dougherty’s art installation “A Restless Spell” in the fall of 2018.
It was a masterpiece built using six tons of willow saplings woven into a castle and erected outside Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library. My son wanted to live there. But the installation was never built to last. In some ways, its ephemeral nature made every day the whimsical sculpture stood feel a little bit magical. We were lucky to have so much time with “A Restless Spell.”
When it finally came down in fall 2022, Dougherty wrote in an email to Elliot Nebeker, a junior who organized a vigil for the art piece, that “It was a pleasure to be on your campus and to have students help with the effort. My son Sam, who helped with the project, also sends his best regards. We think the work on your campus was one of our best.” I couldn’t agree more.
My own family now contains a young Sam, and I know the work at USU is among the best. For much of the last decade I’ve enjoyed helping to tell its stories — from the ones buried in the archives of Special Collections to those unearthed at field sites. My job has always been fun. Even when it was difficult—like during the pandemic. My small people would be playing in the background (sometimes loudly) as I typed. I never used a filter during meetings. I never wanted to hide the chaos that it sometimes was. For instance, during interviews with USU President Noelle E. Cockett, my sons would sometimes barge in with questions. She always laughed and tried to talk with them. That is the culture of support and inclusion at USU that I will miss. Because after five years as managing editor of Utah State Magazine, the time has come for me to move on.
And I am so pleased that our cover story, “Hidden Campus,” is about some of my favorite places on USU’s various campuses. I hope you will tear out the map and save it for a time when you can come back and visit again. I know I will.
By Kristen Munson
Photo by Donna Barry