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

Student’s drawing displayed in ArtPrize: Victory comes from peace

Harry Gu
Gu’s work, “Victory”, will be displayed in the Gerald R. Ford Museum for the duration of ArtPrize.

Grand Rapids’s annual ArtPrize festival is currently featuring Calvin student Harry Gu’s anti-war artwork in Gerald R. Ford Museum.

Gu, a senior graphic design student, worked on an anti-war portfolio in the spring of 2022 for an intermediate drawing class. As a reaction to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Gu decided to draw a piece that would celebrate peace. The graphite drawing is named “Victory” and features a plane dropping bombs. As the bombs fall, they turn into doves. Gu wanted viewers to reflect on how victory does not have to come after the devastation of war. Rather, victory can come from choosing peace. “In this composition, victory is not the aftermath of war, but the triumph of peace and freedom,” Gu writes in his artist statement.

Gu spent several hours a day on the piece, which took him less than a month to complete. Graphite is Gu’s favorite medium to use, though it also holds a larger significance in this artwork. The 1900s saw a lot of war or almost war situations, so Gu used graphite –– a common art medium in the 1900s –– to reflect this time period in his anti-war drawing. The skyline in “Victory” is inspired by a picture Gu has of the Chicago Skyline, although there is no significance in picking the city.

When “Victory” was accepted into ArtPrize, Gu visited the location where his artwork would be. Upon his arrival at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, he was greeted by excited museum workers who knew his name. 

The message of hope in Gu’s piece resonates with some Christians. For Nathan Weflen, the Nexus Program Coordinator and adjunct professor of business, Gu’s artwork is a reminder of Jesus and the hope to come. “The redemptive quality of Harry’s piece helps me to look at the cross, and it reminds me of the profound hope we have in Jesus’s work,” Weflen said.

Art can be a way to express one’s faith and contemplate questions of faith. For Gu, spending time on art allows him to think deeply. Much of his artwork is inspired by his Christian faith, and his ArtPrize drawing is no different. “This message is heavily inspired by my faith,” Gu said. “Victory” has an anti-war message of peace, but the drawing is also inspired by the vision for Christ’s Kingdom in Isaiah 11, Gu said. Isaiah 11:6 says, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” Gu said, “My Christian faith tells me that the kingdom of heaven is already here but not fully. And I’m a Christian, and one of my missions is to spread the kingdom of heaven on earth and deliver this message.”

ArtPrize is offering many large prizes this year, totaling $400,000. According to 13 on Your Side, $400,000 will be distributed based on popular and juried voting. Rather than focus on winning a prize, Gu said ArtPrize is a way to challenge himself and his work. To Gu, showing his anti-violence art at ArtPrize is a way to extend Christ’s message to all and “fulfill my mission,” he said.

Community members can appreciate Gu’s anti-war piece for themselves. The artwork is on display at the Gerald R. Ford Museum from now until October 1; the building is open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free to the public during ArtPrize.

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