New art installations offer break from semester-start stress

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Ezra Craker

“Beauty by Design” is on display at the Center Art Gallery.

School is back in session. With the flurry — or maybe more accurately, the avalanche — of new schedules, assignments and commitments, it can be easy to forget to look around and appreciate one’s surroundings. But this semester, students won’t want to miss all the new art beautifying campus.

Over the summer, Calvin’s Director of Exhibitions Brent Williams and Betty Sanderson, the visual and performing art department’s administrative assistant, installed several works of art around campus, including nearly half of Calvin’s private collection.

“We do our best to take into consideration the location of the work in relation to the academic interests of the surrounding offices and classrooms,” Williams said. The new display locations include the new Politics and Economics offices in Hiemenga Hall, outside the new Social Work and Sociology offices, in the AV hallway in Hiemenga Hall and on the ground level of the Spoelhof University Center.

Gallery assistant and student designer Izzy Nuñez has been enjoying the newly installed woodblock prints in the Art Hub printing room. Nuñez called “Papillon 001” and “Papillon 002,” which were made by 2018 Calvin graduate Madeleine Wiering, “a creative nod to the history of printmaking.”

Also on display outside of the Center Art Gallery is senior Gabrielle Eisma’s project for the McGregor Undergraduate Research Program. As the first visual arts student to participate in the program, Eisma created an artistic guide to the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve using inks entirely made from materials in the preserve — leaves, berries, soil and more.

“[The exhibition] will help you to see both art and the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve in new ways,” said Mark Bjelland, professor of geography and director of the McGregor program. “However, you should not put off your visit until some distant future date, because the artwork is ephemeral.” Due to their natural materials, Eisma’s illustrations will fade over time. 

In the Center Art Gallery, community members can view mokume gane — or mixed metal laminate — vessels created by artists David Huang and David Barnhill in an exhibition called “Beauty by Design.”

“[The exhibition] is peaceful and luminous and transforms the space,” said Paula Manni-Pohler, Calvin’s arts programming assistant. “The gallery is one of the best study spots on campus, and that’s especially true right now with Huang and Barnhill’s vessels on view.”

The vessels, which will be displayed until Nov. 25, are full of textures and surprises: a bumpy brown acorn-shaped sculpture reflecting gold from the inside, a knobby silver shape evoking both thorns and medieval armor, a tiny, elegant turquoise creation that looks like a teacup for an ethereal being. With art on every corner of Calvin’s campus, students have plenty of opportunities to pause the mayhem.