Voices: Partnered in Action Against Racism

Eberhard Wall Gallery, L.V. Eberhard Center, GVSU Pew Campus
August 17, 2020 - October 23, 2020

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd, a 46 year old black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The next day, and throughout the following weeks, protests erupted across the United States and around the world, including here in West Michigan. The sheer volume and intensity of these protests may be an unprecedented moment in the fight against systemic racism, but the fight itself is not new. Inequality is woven into the fabric of this country and unraveling the threads of race-based discrimination, bias, and violence is a monumental task. 

Drawn from the permanent collection of art at Grand Valley State University, this exhibition seeks to elevate the voices and experiences of Black artists, activists, and allies. It features a wide range of artwork and artists, paired with statements that contextualize the work within this moment of massive social change. The voices of Black artists expressing their daily struggles and range of approaches to addressing systemic racism are included next to responses by GV faculty who embed conversations about race, identity, and oppression into their curriculum.

In the face of institutional racism, the GVSU Art Gallery supports equality for all and stands with those who fight for it. The simple act of looking, listening, and considering the perspectives of others is one that can develop into deep, meaningful change. We recognize that the fight for equality continues, and it is our hope that these works of art and voices can stimulate understanding and contribute to this important cause.

Download the Learning Guide.

Two photographs of a wall with artworks hanging in a line


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collage print

Henry A. Brown, Untitled (detail), Cut Paper Collage, 2019.57.3

Henry A. Brown is a collage artist who lives and works in Grand Rapids, MI. You’ll often find four elements, sometimes hidden, in Brown’s collages; water, fish, money, and a clock. Each object holds particular significance to the artist. He explains, “time and money… it’s what we think about all the time. We always think we have the time to fix things but we don’t. We think we can go around throwing money at it [the problem] to fix it but we can’t. And what good’s money and time if you don’t have what nourishes… water and fish?”


image of black man with color swirling around him

Jasmine BruceDon't Interrupt the God Flow (detail), mixed media, 2018, 2018.55.2

Jasmine Bruce is a Michigan-based visual artist. She graduated from GVSU with a BFA in Illustration in 2018. In the summer of 2020, Bruce completed multiple murals in the city of Grand Rapids including the mural of Harriet Woods Hill, the first African American Woman to serve as an officer in the Grand Rapids Police Department, part of the Women’s Way public art initiative. The mural is located in the alley off Louis St. NW at the northwest corner of GRPD headquarters.

black and white close-up photograph of woman's face

Melissa Campbell, Reflection (detail), 2008, photographic print, 2008.378.1

Melissa Campbell lives and works in Raleigh, NC. She graduated from GVSU with a BA in Art & Design in 2004. In the summer of 2020, Campbell began an initiative to place artwork in K-12 classrooms. She explains, "I am a firm believer that exposure to Black art helps create well-rounded, well-prepared learners and leaders. So I’m donating prints of my artwork to teachers in the hope that one day it can bridge the gap between these conversations and the healing necessary to create a peaceful coexistence for everyone." 

detail image of 2 color screen print

Brett Colley, Envisioning Freedom: Bigger than Sports #2 (detail), digital print, 2018, 2019.25.6

Brett Colley earned his MFA in Printmaking from the University of Iowa in 1994. Colley is now an Associate Professor at GVSU and teaches a variety of courses including Drawing, Printmaking, and Senior Seminar. His recent writing and studio work assumes a wide, critical perspective on industrialized animal agriculture and examines the tragedies of racism, sexism, ableism and ecocide that intersect with our exploitation of other species.

black and white photo of black man at office desk

Douglas R. Gilbert, Ivanhoe Donaldson (for LOOK Magazine) (detail), photographic print, 1965, 2018.48.2023

Douglas Gilbert made a career as a professional photographer for more than 60 years. When Gilbert was twenty-one, he joined the staff of Look magazine in New York as the second youngest photojournalist in the magazines history. A few years later, he left Look to work as an artist and has since had his work published in countless national and international publications such as LIFE, The Saturday Evening Post and Glamour. His complete body of work is archived in the GVSU Art Gallery permanent collection. He currently lives with his wife in Grand Haven, MI.

photo of young black woman looking over her shoulder and laughing joyously

Markeyna JeffersonTaken for Granted: The Supremacy of God (detail), archival inkjet print, 2018, 2018.82.1

Markeyna Jefferson graduated from GVSU with a BS in photography in 2018. Jefferson explains, "as a Black female photographer with a passion for social justice, I try my best to use my platform to display the African American community in a positive light. I photograph portraits that convey how Black individuals turn their pain caused by institutionalized racism into inner beauty, confidence, and success."

Black woman breast feeding infant

Jon Onye LockardInterruption (detail), pastel on canvas, 2012.34.1

Jon Onye Lockard taught life drawing, portrait painting, and the art and culture of African Americans for over forty years at the University of Michigan and at Washtenaw Community College. Lockard was a beloved member of both institutions and also had a distinguished career as a portrait painter and leader in the African American community.

watercolor portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.

Jon McDonaldMartin Luther King Jr. (detail), reproduction of a watercolor, 2019.43.1

Jon McDonald is an American painter and educator living in Grand Rapids, MI. Jon holds both a Bachelors and a Masters degree in fine art from San Francisco Art Institute. Read more about McDonald's life and work in this 2011 profile. 

colorful collage of glued wood pieces

Rufus SnoddyIgnorance and Revelation (detail), mixed media, 2019.64.2

Rufus Snoddy moved to Northern Michigan over a decade ago from Los Angeles, California. Snoddy's work reflects a concert of approaches, materials, and dichotomy, striving for seamless shifting from  one to the other. "It is sculpture....it's painting....it is both." More accurately he calls his work Construction Paintings. With a graduate degree focusing on sculpture, Snoddy has spent many years pursuing the act of collecting sundry materials, construction and painting methods. 

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Key Themes

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This exhibition features the voices of Black artists responding to systemic racism and the social unrest of the Summer of 2020, along side faculty allies who address systemic racism and inequality in their classrooms. This exhibition engages themes related to social justice, education, and African American culture. Check out the following GVSU Library books and articles to learn more about these key themes or use the Libraries Catalog to find more information.

Learning Guide
(click to open in new tab and download)

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Recommended Reading

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(print)  None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Lifeby Stephen Best
(print)  The Origin of Othersby Toni Morrison, with a foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates
(print)  Stick to the Skin: African American and Black British Art, 1965-2015by Celeste-Marie Bernier

Full Reading List
(click to open in new tab and download)

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Additional Resources


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More from the GVSU Art Gallery & Permanent Collection

Additional Artworks from the GVSU Art Collection Related to Artists of Color & Using Art in the Classroom

Related Exhibitions

Use Art in the Classroom


August 17, 2020 - October 23, 2020

Eberhard Gallery
L.V. Eberhard Center
301 W Fulton St
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Gallery viewing is based on building hours


For special accommodation, please call:
(616) 331-2563

For exhibition details and media inquires, please email:
Joel Zwart, Curator of Exhibitions
[email protected]

For learning and engagement opportunities, please email:
[email protected].


Page last modified February 9, 2023