Students display art in McDonald’s

When it comes to fast food, McDonald’s is known for its Big Macs, McChickens and salty fries. However, the Waverly restaurant, for the third year, features something not commonly found in the fast-food chain: artwork created by college students. 

“McDonald’s probably wouldn’t be the best place for me to display something, but that is what we are given and I’m going to take advantage of that,” fourth-year art major Jorge Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is one of five Wartburg students who currently have their pieces of art on display at the restaurant. The artwork includes ceramic pieces, collages and a sculpture. Art Professor Barbara Fedeler said the exhibit began when McDonald’s was looking to decorate their restaurant.

“With some discussion with the business manager, I proposed that Wartburg have the space as a revolving display case rather than permanent acquisitions, and they were game,” Fedeler said.

The artwork rotates every six months, and the current display is the second since the partnership began Fall Term 2010. When the restaurant moved into it’s new building, Fedeler said management contacted her to ask if student artwork was available to be displayed. Fedeler said although many types of artwork can be displayed, there are a few requirements for the pieces.

She said the space requirement is most likely the most significant. She also said McDonald’s doesn’t want to deal with any work that may offend some people, may be controversial or may make some people uncomfortable.

“It isn’t just that art is beauty,” Fedeler said. “This is a really public space, so I do on occasion think about screening the work. I mean, they probably wouldn’t let me put up a fully nude picture.”

Fedeler said it is generally art majors and minors who have their work featured at the restaurant, but the opportunity is not limited to those students. Fourth-year public relations and communication design major Emily Timmermans has a collage displayed at McDonald’s.

She said Fedeler approached her after she took a senior art seminar class last semester and asked her if she would like her work featured in the public.

“I just kind of thought ‘why not?’” Timmermans said. “The community does a lot for Wartburg, and I thought showing off my work for the community is the least I could do for them. I might as well let people enjoy looking at it.”

Rodriguez has had two pieces featured. He said he has heard from many people who have seen his work and given them positive reviews.

“People have seen it before and were like, ‘How do you do that? Explain to me more how you did that,’” Rodriguez said.

Timmermans said she considers the publicity students receive from the display to be one of the biggest advantages the program has to offer.

“I think it’s great to let the community see into what some of the Wartburg students are doing and to give the students a chance to show off their work to more people than just those at Wartburg,” Timmermans said.

Fedeler also said it is not just Wartburg that benefits from the partnership with the restaurant. She said the display highlights McDonald’s connection with the entire campus and community, as well.

“McDonald’s has a history of having a relationship with the public,” Fedeler said.

“I think this is another way to show that they are supported by and are a part of this greater community.”


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