Part of the "Making Waves" exhibition.

Exhibitions connect Making Waves initiative to visual art, show prominence of water in artistic pieces

Several ongoing exhibitions highlighting water and its effect on humanity are part of the Making Waves initiative, a reflection of the commitment leaders had to connect their work to visual art.

Two separate exhibitions explore the initiative itself and the universality of water. There also is a curated set of water-related works from the Grand Valley Art Gallery collection that is viewable online.

It's no surprise that water plays such an important role for artists in a state that is surrounded by shoreline, said Joel Zwart, GVSU curator of collections.

"Water has also been, and continues to be a popular subject matter among artists in general," Zwart said. "I think much of that is due to its changing qualities, how it reflects and refracts light, presents challenges, and promotes contemplation and beauty. It’s also an important resource."

Peter Wampler, professor of geology and a co-leader of the initiative, said these exhibitions highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the Making Waves.

“Working with the Grand Valley Art Gallery to put together the Making Waves exhibit has been a great collaborative experience and is an example of what the Making Waves initiative is all about -- mixing expertise and experience to make something special,” Wampler said.



"MAKING WAVES" EXHIBITION AT THE KIRKHOF WALL GALLERY

Someone looks at part of the "Making Waves" exhibition
Image Credit: Sarah Anderson

This exhibition is a result of conversations between the Art Gallery and Making Waves teams to promote the initiative and act as a documentation of it to date, Zwart said. 

The exhibition primarily shows event-based photographs from initiative members as well as Grand Valley photographers. It is organized around the themes, “Experiential Learning and Activities,” “Geographic Identity,” “Cooperative and Community Engagement,” and “Advocacy and Mentoring.”

“Making Waves is all about crossing disciplinary boundaries. Working with the GVSU Art Gallery on the Making Waves retrospective exhibition has given us the opportunity to put that process into practice," Wampler said.

The exhibition will be up through March 5 at the Kirkhof Wall Gallery. It will then move to the Eberhard Wall Gallery from July 10 to October 22.



"ROUGH WATERS" EXHIBITION IN ZUMBERGE HALL LOBBY

Someone walks past the "Rough Waters" exhibition in Zumberge Hall.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

Zwart worked with student assistant Autumn Flachs to curate from the Art Gallery collection an exhibition representing water-related issues. Flachs explained in a blog that the goal was to address socioeconomic and environmental concerns.

The exhibition will remain in the Zumberge lobby through Fall 2021. Here is more information.



Some pieces in the "Rough Waters" exhibition
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

MORE WATER-RELATED PIECES FROM THE GVSU ART GALLERY COLLECTION

Ellen Adams, associate professor of Art History in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, who has a joint appointment with the GVSU Art Gallery, curated a set of water-related works from the GVSU Art Gallery collection.

Nathan Kemler, director of GVSU's Galleries and Collections, said the subject of water is an understandably key part of the collection.

“Water is essential to life as we know it and thus this grand subject is omnipresent throughout our world," Kemler said. "The visual arts are used to express and communicate our collective stories of humanity and therefore it should come to no surprise that water is a constant and a diverse theme expressed through our art collection at Grand Valley State University.”

DETAILS ON SOME OF THE PIECES IN THE "MAKING WAVES" EXHIBITION

GVSU student Molly Lane collects samples for water quality testing from Lake Michigan at the Pere Marquette Beach
Experiential Learning and Activities; GVSU student Molly Lane collects samples for water quality testing from Lake Michigan at the Pere Marquette Beach; Valerie Hendrickson; 2020
View of the Grand River near Spring Lake, Michigan
Geographic Identity; View of the Grand River near Spring Lake, Michigan; Thom Bell; n.d.
Hannah Seidel, GVSU associate professor of dance, leads children in Dancing by the Pond during Friends and Family Day of the Big Splash Week
Cooperative and Community Engagement; Hannah Seidel, GVSU associate professor of dance, leads children in Dancing by the Pond during Friends and Family Day of the Big Splash Week; Valerie Hendrickson; 2019