Grand Valley State University presents the 16th annual Fall Arts Celebration 2018, Celebrating the Arts and Humanities in West Michigan on a red background

Spotlighting the arts

16th annual celebration offers gifts of poetry, music, dance, art during six free events

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The arts have the power to connect us, resonate within us, spark change and encourage positive growth. They have the ability to delight, captivate, inspire and challenge perspectives about the world.

For the past 15 years, West Michigan audiences have enjoyed a series of six free events every fall at Grand Valley that celebrate the positive impact of the arts. Since its inception, Fall Arts Celebration has shined the spotlight on some of the world's foremost writers, poets, musicians, dancers, artists and scholars.

During this year's Fall Arts Celebration, audiences will have the opportunity to explore the mysteries of Mars, listen to variations of Italian street songs, enjoy the rhythm and artistic nature of African dance, contemplate the idea that business and art are changing each other, and much more.

President Thomas J. Haas said these events are offered as gifts to the local community that has supported the evolution of the university.

“The arts lift us up, make us think and provide an endless variety of entertainment and enrichment, and we hope others will join us in celebrating the richness of the worlds of poetry, dance, art, music and more this fall," Haas said.


The exhibit brings together more than 100 photographs, drawings, movie posters, book covers and video projections related to Mars.

Mars is the only planet in the solar system that could be made to support human life.

A virtual reality simulator in the GVSU Art Gallery will provide visitors with an immersive experience on the Red Planet.

Exhibit will also feature Martian-themed toys and collectibles from a private collection based in Chicago.

Part of the exhibition will be hosted at the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College as well as the Holland Museum, located in Holland, Michigan.

This exhibition was curated by Pasadena Arts Council for the Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. It is a project of the Pasadena Arts Council’s EMERGE Fiscal Sponsorship Program.

quartet of musicians with instruments

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s love of Italy inspired his String Sextet in D Minor, Op. 70 Souvenir de Florence.

Tchaikovsky, cherished as a master composer of symphonies and ballets, infused this piece with well-known Italian street songs and melodies.

Formed at The Julliard School in 2008, members of the Tesla Quartet include Ross Snyder (violin), Michelle Lie (violin), Edwin Kaplan (viola) and Serafim Smigelskiy (cello).

The quartet has won numerous prizes and awards at international competitions, including the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, 2012 London International String Quartet Competition, and 2013 Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition.

Grand Valley music faculty members Pablo Mahave-Veglia (cello) and Paul Swantek (viola) will join the quartet for "Souvenir de Florence."

headshot: William Deresiewicz

Deresiewicz’s presentation will explore how business and the arts are changing each other as more companies desire creative employees.

The presentation will build upon Deresiewicz’s viral essay for The Atlantic, “The Death of the Artist — and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur.”

Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic, and the best-selling author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life.

His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, The American Scholar and The London Review of Books.

2 headshots: Carl Phillips and Ada Limon

“If Phillips is the more somber voice of the two poets, his words are still lit by brief moments of intensity and beauty. Limón’s relaxed, seemingly casual voice dazzles with precision and directness.” – Patricia Clark, professor of writing and Poet-in-Residence at Grand Valley.

Limón is the author of five books of poetry, including The Carrying (2018) and Bright Dead Things (2015).

The Carrying was named “One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018” by NPR.

Phillips is the author of 14 books of poetry, including Wild Is the Wind (2018) and Reconnaissance (2015).

A four-time finalist for the National Book Award, Phillips’ honors include the Los Angeles Times’ Book Prize for Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Library of Congress and Academy of American Poets.

dance troupe

Kariamu Welsh is a Guggenheim Award-winning dance scholar, choreographer and professor of dance in the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University.

She is the founder of Umfundalai technique, a contemporary African dance technique based on traditional ideas from Africa and throughout the African Diaspora that she has been developing for the past 40 years.

Umfundalai seeks to articulate the essence of African-oriented movement while highlighting the cultural and aesthetic continuity found in the rhythm and artistic sensibilities of African dance.

Welsh said one of her responsibilities as an artist is to tell the stories, myths, legends and histories of the marginalized, invisible, forgotten and oppressed.

snow on red berries on a tree branch

Renowned choral conductor Craig Jessop will lead the GVSU Arts Chorale and local high school students in this musical holiday celebration featuring Robert Shaw’s The Many Moods of Christmas.

The Many Moods of Christmas showcases the timeless secular and sacred music of 18 traditional carols combined with melodies from composers such as Handel, Bizet and Bach.

Jessop is a professor of music and founding dean of the Caine College of Arts at Utah State University.

He is the former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and led the ensemble as the featured conductor for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.