Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Art collection at Calvin exhibited for the first time

This photograph belongs to Hiroshi Sugimoto’s famed Seascapes series (1980 – present). Sugimoto began this body of work by photographing views of the world’s various oceans and seas, traveling around the world to make pictures that, despite their vastly different geographic origins, seem at first to be the same, with only slight variations. Their captions confirm that each is of a different body of water: Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific, Adriatic. Photo Courtesy Joel Zwart

Last Wednesday, the CFAC’s Center Art Gallery released its newest exhibition, “Light: An Eternal Presence — The Donna Spaan Contemporary Collection of Art.” The collection, made possible by a generous donation from Calvin alumna Donna Spaan, currently features 17 pieces from artists representing seven nationalities that work from both Christian and secular backgrounds.

Joel Zwart, Calvin’s director of exhibitions, began working with Spaan in 2013 to find art and create a collection that would be not just aesthetically appealing but also educational. After two years of searching for and collecting art, Zwart and Spaan were glad to release the collection’s first exhibition to the public.

“This exhibition really is the result of the last two years of us working together to start this collection,” said Zwart. “This spring we spent quite a bit of time intentionally focusing on buying new work and finding new work so we could get up to about what we were shooting for.”

Spaan, a Calvin alumna with a Ph.D. in theater from the University of Michigan, has expressed interest in the arts since her days in school. Creating and donating an art collection, she said, was her way to “pay back” the college.

Overall, the donation for the art was around $350,000, and it was this sizable amount of funding, said Zwart, that has really helped make the collection unique so far. “Some of the artists represented here, like Hiroshi Sugimoto and Gerhard Richter, are more internationally known. It’s pieces like these that really help give weight to the collection as a whole.”

Still, each piece contributes to the overall theme and gives variety to the collection.

“I chose each artwork very carefully and with a unifying vision based on Light in mind,” said Spaan. “One goal was to have the artworks speak to each other and thereby to the viewer. The operating interconnections would then add density to the collection as a tapestry.”

“It excites me that I am making an international collection with seven nationalities already housed in 17 artworks,” said Spaan. “[It excites me] that I can use my assets to share with others my deep belief in the necessity and power of art to unveil God’s presence at work in the world.”

Even though only a few of the artists are actually working from a Christian perspective, the overall theme of the collection, “Light: an Eternal Presence,” encourages a more spiritual exploration of each piece.

“Light is such a divine gift. With it we see the world and can begin to understand and experience what is alive inside the cosmos,” said Spaan.

Complementing the opening of the exhibition was a newly commissioned poem by Lew Klatt, entitled “Say What You See in the Dark,” and a lecture by Craig Hanson on the historical context for the collection.

The collection will remain at Calvin until October 10 and will then travel to Dordt College and Grand Valley State University.

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