Landscape paintings “Autumn Symphony” and “Wild Horse Creek” by Birger Sandzéns decorate the entrance foyer of McCray Hall on the campus of Pittsburg State University.
Sven Birger Sandzén was born in Blidsberg, Sweden on February 5, 1871. He immigrated to Lindsborg, Kansas at the age of 23 to teach at Bethany College. He taught French, Swedish, German and Spanish until 1899 when he become the principal art instructor at Bethany.
A true Renaissance man, he was the tenor soloist with the Bethany Oratorio Society (1896-1901 and 1903-1905) and gave many recitals with his wife, Alfrida Leksell Sandzén, a talented pianist. Sandzén was an accomplished writer as well, contributing articles and folktales to Swedish-American newspapers for many years. As a professional artist, Sandzén produced oils, watercolors, and prints which now hang in homes, schools and galleries throughout the United States.
In the early twenties and thirties he exhibited extensively, including two exhibitions at the Babcock Galleries in New York. In addition to his Kansas landscapes, he is famous for his paintings of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Utah and the Southwest. Birger Sandzén died in Lindsborg, Kansas on June 19, 1954.