Augustana Student and Faculty Member Awarded Harold Spitznagel Medal for Achievement in Art

By Jill Wilson | May 01, 2024
Gracie, John and TSP Representatives

The university is proud to announce that the Augustana Art Department has presented its highest award — the Harold Spitznagel Medal for Achievement in Art — to Augustana student Gracie Korstjens ‘24 and Augustana faculty member John Henry Peters ‘76. The two were awarded the prestigious medal during the opening reception of the Augustana Senior Show at the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery on Friday, April 26.


“Personally, the most significant aspect of receiving this award is the community it represents. It acknowledges not only my own achievements, but places me among a group of truly remarkable individuals. More importantly, it reflects the support and guidance I've received from my mentors at Augustana throughout all of these years. They've been truly instrumental in shaping me as an artist and as a person. This award recognizes not just my artistic journey, but the entire network that made it possible,” said Korstjens.


Korstjens, an art and biology double major, is from Milbank, South Dakota. While at Augustana, Korstjens concentrated on printmaking. 


“Biology and printmaking have much in common — often mimicking each other in a variety of ways. Both subjects involve close observation and exploration, along with problem solving and transformation of materials. Experimentation exists with replication in both fields,” said Korstjens, who has been accepted into the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in printmaking at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts.

“The conversations her work facilitates are incredibly important, and I admire her courage and fearlessness,” noted Augustana Art Department Chair Anna Reich. 


“Gracie is a community builder. She is highly personable, an excellent listener and attentive to those around her,” added Eide/Dalrymple Gallery Director Dr. Lindsay Twa. “Although she is absolutely committed to her studio practice and goals of being a professional artist, she approaches her work without ego, and with a humble curiosity.”


The Augustana Art Department also awarded the medal to a faculty member, a rare distinction.


“As a 1976 Augustana alumnus, and one who is the cornerstone of our art department, it seemed only fitting that this specific medal be awarded to John Henry Peters,” noted Twa.


“The Harold Spitznagel Award means a great deal to me. I am immensely humbled and honored that my colleagues decided to include me in this amazing group of Spitznagel Award recipients. I am very thankful,” said Peters, Augustana Eide/Dalrymple Gallery coordinator and sculpture instructor.


Peters is acclaimed as an impactful teacher and mentor, as well as an inspiring artist in his own right. 


“He provided me with the space and support I needed to grow — demonstrating the qualities of an extraordinary teacher who allows individuals to create authentically while offering guidance when needed,” stated Haley Hoffer ’24, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) student in sculpture. “His phenomenal dedication during my time as his student has left an enduring influence on my life.”  


“John has the biggest heart of anyone I have had the opportunity to work alongside,” remarked Reich. “He is always ready to lend a hand, listen and support. As an artist, this same level of care he gives his colleagues and students manifests in the meticulous nature of his work.”


Only two other faculty members have received the medal — Carl Grupp, who founded the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery and Augustana’s printmaking program, received the medal in 1994. Robert Aldern ’51, who worked for Spitznagel in the 1950s at the time of the medal’s inception and later became a professor of art and chair of the department, received the award in 1996. 


Most recently, Alexa (Lammers) Becker ‘22 and Gracie Rothering ‘22 were awarded the medal as Augustana students in 2022.


About the Harold Spitznagel Medal for Achievement in Art


The Harold Spitznagel Medal for Achievement in Art is given to artists who demonstrate the highest standards of excellence in their artistic endeavors throughout their careers at Augustana. The award is only bestowed occasionally, and was first awarded in 1959.


The Harold Spitznagel Medal was designed in 1957 by Ogden Dalrymple, Augustana professor emeritus of art. Over the course of the history of the award, two sets of the bronze medals have been struck. At the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year, the Augustana Art Department held one last original medal that still read “Augustana College.” Thanks to the support of past Spitznagel awardees, friends of the Augustana Art Program and TSP, Inc., a new set of bronze medals were struck. These had only one update from Dalrymple’s original design — the medals now read “Augustana University.”


To learn more about the Augustana Art Department, visit

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