“The Art of the Onondagan”

The Art of the Onondagan

In September 2007 the University Archives mounted an exhibition of examples of artwork from SU's yearbook. The exhibition ran in the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center until January 2008.

In 1878 several "secret societies" published the Syracusean, the first yearbook, or annual, of Syracuse University. There were no photographs included at that time but there were caricatures of the organizations, athletics, classes and the editors themselves. This included George W. Weaver, who was one of the main artists of the volume.

Subsequent volumes throughout the years achieved more sophistication. Photographs were included and the renamed Onondagan had a staff of art editors for each volume. Class of 1911 artists Mildred E. Stillman and C. Earl Bradbury pictured the feminine and the athletic for their classmates. Mary Frances Stowell embraced the Arabian Night theme of the extravagant 1928 Onondagan with opulent representations of the old tales. Thomas Powers illustrations for the 1970 Onondagan reflected Syracuse University's celebration of their Centennial year touched with the controversy of the time.

The University's connection to the world is honored in the 1920 Onondagan, where art editor Robert C. Berman pays tribute to the Great War just concluded. The Great War on the horizon, and the changes it will bring, is foreseen in the illustrations of George J. Halley for the 1942 volume.

Every year, every Onondagan has reflected the students and their own time at Syracuse University. The artistry is of its' time as well, to capture the moment and the spirit of each class and the memories engendered.

~ This exhibition was curated by Mary M. O'Brien.