Dan Brinkmeier is a teacher, artist and educational media designer, with more than 30 years of experience in development communication, museum exhibit production, and scientific outreach. Dan retired in 2009 from Chicago’s Field Museum Natural History, where he managed environmental conservation and community outreach programming in South America and Africa. He began his professional career at The Field Museum as an exhibit preparator, building exhibits such as the Africa Exhibit, and in 1988 he painted the Egyptian Marsh Diorama mural, which can still be seen in 2016. He has a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Illinois and an M.S. in journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University, where he also served as a visual media instructor for international students enrolled in training programs sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Dan has produced educational materials, similar to comic books, for audiences ranging from Midwestern farmers and Chicago’s school children, to indigenous people in the Amazon and the Andean Region of Peru and Bolivia. He became interested in South America during the late 1970s, while working as a scientific illustrator for the Anthropology Department at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana; this connection lead to his working on archaeological sites in Southern Peru at Puno (Lake Titicaca) and this also where he produced his first illustrated instructional booklets that would help rural communities learn about their own heritage and the prehistory of the area.
Since leaving The Field Museum in 2009, Dan has returned to his family farm south of Mount Carroll, while farming full time in partnership with his younger brother. He also continues his professional and academic relationship with The Field Museum as a research associate. A representational painter inspired by the WPA and Regionalist artists of the 1930s, Dan’s personal artwork often represents the spiritual connections that rural Midwestern people find within their landscape, and he depicts the small ceremonies and rituals performed by Illinois farmers in their everyday lives. Dan was born in Savanna, Illinois in 1953.
The painting is based on a WPA/Federal Art Project mural that is the Mount Carroll Post Office; I grew up looking at that painting and thinking about how it depicted rural people within our landscape of Northwestern Illinois; some years ago I had the idea that perhaps our community could be represented by a more updated version of that WPA mural in the post office; mine has looser brushwork and more expression, and is a little bit dark; the one in the post office is a wonderful folk painting.