Meet the Staff

Art Gallery Staff

Nathan Kemler

Nathan Kemler
Director of Galleries and Collections

kemlern@gvsu.edu
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As Director of Galleries and Collections for the Art Gallery, Nathan:

  • Provides leadership, vision, and strategic direction for the department, and serve as a mentor to staff, students, and the greater museum community
  • Plays the lead role in long-range departmental strategic planning efforts, in support of the university’s plan
  • Serves as an institutional liaison and promote long-term relationships with supporters, faculty, students, staff, donors, philanthropists, and the public
  • Manages the departmental budget and oversees the university's collections, exhibitions, and related educational programming initiatives
  • Directs and manages the development of the collection management database, and the subsequent online visual learning platform for collection accessibility

Nathan currently serves as the president on the Michigan Museums Association board of directors and as a peer reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums Assessment Program in the areas of Collection Stewardship and Community Engagement. He has previously served as a board member to the American Museum of Magic and on committees for the Michigan Museums Association in the areas of professional development and programs. Before his current appointment at GVSU started in 2008, he was the Project Curator of Ethnology at the Public Museum of Grand Rapids and Curator of Historic Sites and Collections at the Holland Museum. Nathan received his B.A. in World History with minors in Art History, Archaeology, and Studio Art from Calvin College and received his M.A. from the Historical Administration graduate program at Eastern Illinois University while being awarded the History and Technology assistantship. Nathan is a servant leader in the region and specializes in collection accessibility and community engagement initiatives. 


Alison Christensen

Alison Christensen
Project Manager
chrisali@gvsu.edu
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As Project Manager for the Art Gallery, Alison:

  • Manages campus art projects relating to new building construction, building renovations and department art requests.
  • Manages artwork acquisitions, project budgets, project timelines, artwork preparation & installation, team supervision and vendor communications.
  • Builds relationships that strengthen ties and creates consensus between other GVSU departments which encourages open communication in support of the University learning goals - following the strategic plan and corresponding mission & vision statements.
  • Serves as departmental liaison in Facility Planning and Student Services Auxiliary monthly team meetings and as the Art Advisory Committee Chair for new building projects.

Alison completed her Master in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership degree, emphasis in Community Impact, from GVSU in 2019 and earned the Graduate Dean’s Citation for Academic Excellence – Outstanding Final Project award.  In 2004, Alison received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from GVSU. Alison is passionate about utilizing the arts as a tool in civic engagement. She encourages and strengthens community relationships by serving as a board member for the  Grand Rapids Gallery Association (GRGA),  the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC), and the GVSU Children’s Enrichment Center Taskforce. Alison is also a member of the GVSU Women’s Commission, GVSU University Club and GVSU Positive Organizations.

Alison began working for the Art Gallery in 2009 as a preparator and became the project manager in 2015.  While working at GVSU, Alison has received specialized training from the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies, completed the PMI Project Management Fundamentals Course, and presented at the 2019 Southeastern Conference of Public Administration. Prior to her appointment at GVSU, she worked for DTE Energy’s Learning Zone, Lafontsee Gallery and Jeffery Roberts Homes, INC.

Alison comes from a family of sailors and has sailed with them in the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race 11 times. She enjoys exploring Michigan’s natural and cultural resources with her husband, son and chocolate lab.

Jenniffer Eckert

Jenniffer Eckert
Art Gallery Assistant
eckertj@gvsu.edu

Jenniffer has over 17 years’ experience working in the administrative field, most recently having worked for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division, in Panama City, Florida, as an administrative assistant and human resources assistant. Prior to that position, Jenniffer has worked as a financial manager, business manager, assistant manager, in addition to other various administrative positions. Jenniffer is planning to finish earning her MA at Grand Valley in the Management field and is more than half-way there! As a single mother of three children and two dogs, Jenniffer stays very active outside of work attending her children’s extracurricular activities as well as various other motherly duties. Jenniffer was born and raised in SE Grand Rapids and currently resides in Jenison, Michigan.

Dru King

Dru King
Preparator
kingan@gvsu.edu

Dru King has been a preparator at Grand Valley State University’s Art Gallery Department since 2003. He earned his BFA at GVSU in 2001 and his MFA at Kendall College of Art and Design in 2009. After receiving his MFA, Dru taught drawing courses at Kendall and at Grand Valley. His responsibilities at the Art Gallery include matting and framing of artwork as well as exhibit and building installations. He is also a local artist that focuses on painting and drawing. Examples of his artwork are on permanent display in the GVSU collection and at the Betty Van Andel Opera Center in Grand Rapids.

Katie Pershon

Katie Pershon
Preparator
pershoka@gvsu.edu

Amanda Rainey

Amanda Rainey
User Experience & Learning Manager
raineyam@gvsu.edu
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As UX & Learning Manager for the Art Gallery, Amanda:

  • Creates educational resources to connect the GVSU art collection and exhibitions with students, faculty, staff, and the community.
  • Helps plan public programs that enhance exhibitions through education, interpretation, and social engagement.
  • Produces artist talks, scholarly lectures, panels, tours, discussion groups, workshops, and social events that engage the community in visual learning, social and political dialogue, arts appreciation, civic mindfulness, and education pedagogy.

Amanda received her BA in Art Education at Purdue University in 2006. For the next few years she taught elementary art classes and studied photography at Columbia College in Chicago while serving as a youth development professional during the Summers with the American Youth Foundation’s Camp Miniwanca in Shelby, Michigan. She moved to Grand Rapids in 2011 to pursue a BFA in Photography from Kendall College of Art & Design. While in grad school Amanda co-founded Craft House--a collaborative exhibition space on the Avenue for the Arts in downtown Grand Rapids. Amanda graduated from KCAD in 2014 and joined the KCAD Admissions Office as an Admissions Counselor. She later served as the Admissions Transfer Specialist at KCAD supporting students in their pursuit of furthering their art and design education. Amanda joined the GVSU Art Gallery team in April 2020.

Nicole Webb

Nicole Webb
Collections Manager
webbnic@gvsu.edu

As Collections Manager for the Art Gallery, Nicole:

  • Manages the over 15,000 works of art part of the GVSU Collection that is on display in every GVSU building and stored within art gallery storage.
  • Maintains the online database of collection records.
  • Assists with installation of the permanent collection throughout campus and exhibits.

Nicole is a Grand Valley State University Alumna, graduating in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in both art history and anthropology. She then completed her master's degree in Historical Administration at Eastern Illinois State University in Charleston, Illinois. Nicole then made a cross-country trip to work as the Curator of Collections at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula in Missoula, Montana where she managed the exhibits and a permanent collection of over 40,000 artifacts. After enjoying the mountains for over 7 years- she and her family packed up and came back home to the beautiful Great Lakes of Michigan to re-join the GVSU Art Gallery staff as Collections Manager in 2018.

Joel Zwart

Joel Zwart
Curator of Exhibitions
joel_zwart@gvsu.edu
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As Curator of Exhibitions for the Art Gallery, Joel:

  • Manages exhibition development, design and installation at all university galleries
  • Curates exhibitions with strong interdisciplinary and multicultural themes
  • Assists with placement and installation of the permanent collection throughout all university buildings and outdoor spaces
  • Oversees the design and production of materials related to exhibitions and special projects

Joel has over 20 years of experience in the museum field, having organized more than 200 exhibitions. He joined the GVSU Art Gallery team in 2016 after serving for 14 years as the Director of Exhibitions at Calvin College. In that role, he oversaw the development and opening of the new Center Art Gallery, managed the (106) Gallery from 2006-16, and led the re-organization of the college’s permanent collection of art. He also served as the Director of Education at the Holland Historical Trust, and has been an independent curator, consultant and exhibition designer. Joel received his B.A. in History with minors in Art and French from Calvin College, and received his M.A. in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University, alongside an assistantship at The Tarble Arts Center. He continues to serve on various committees at museums and non-profit organizations.


Faculty Fellows

No current faculty fellows. If interested, please contact Nathan Kemler, Director of Galleries and Collections.


Student Gallery Assistants

Haley Ganshaw
Gallery Assistant

Karli McClendon
Gallery Assistant

Christina Stephensen
Gallery Assistant

Jacob Rumler
Gallery Assistant

Chehallis Robinson
Gallery Assistant (Collections)