Students in Curatorial Studio develop broad skills while assembling public exhibition

A closeup of art, framed by the pink wood of the exhibition.
A closeup of a piece outside the L. William Seidman Center.

Rapid change is the central theme of the art collection that students in Grand Valley's Curatorial Studio have assembled, exploring change through life and death as well as its cyclical nature in society.

The "FLUX" exhibition is currently on display at locations in the City of Grand Rapids, including the Pew Grand Rapids Campus, Fountain Street Church and the Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids. The exhibition was done in conjunction with the Avenue for the Arts.

Pieces examine changes that often go unnoticed in society but affect people internally, locally and globally. 

While the Curatorial Studio course is centered around art presentations and exhibitions, the wider curatorial experience students glean from the general education class can help people pursuing a broad range of careers, said Dulcee Boehm, visiting professor of visual studies and foundations.

"The idea is that the skill set and experience of this course can be applied in different scenarios, from nonprofit organizations to communications," Boehm said.

Those in the art world can translate the lessons learned through the Curatorial Studio into galleries, Boehm said, while others may draw on the same skills to curate and organize a public-facing event for an organization.

Students work collaboratively to shape each course's curation according to their interests, Boehm said. Experiences include putting out a national call for pieces.

A piece of art in an installation under a tree near the Seidman Center
A piece of art in an installation outside Fountain Street Church
Two of the installations are near the L. William Seidman Center, left, and outside Fountain Street Church.

Heather Meadows, who is majoring in advertising and public relations pursuing a minor in studio art, said she didn't expect to take a class such as this, but has found the experience invaluable. Meadows envisions using the skills developed in the class on social media, websites and more.

"I have learned you can apply curation to every aspect of your life," Meadows said. "You're curating all the time, whether you know it or not."

Meadows said working to bring together a cohesive project among classmates with varying opinions was challenging and fulfilling. 

"This is a project where I feel like if I was younger and watching an older sibling doing this, I would think it was super cool," Meadows said.

Miranda Kornowicz, who is a studio art major with an emphasis in jewelry and metalsmithing, said the class has been helpful for career aspirations in the museum field as well as for helping to fine tune future exhibitions of the wearable art she creates.

Kornowicz said the work of putting together an exhibition for a public space has also provided deeper insight on that part of the artistic process.

"You have to be sensitive to the artist's work and putting it out in the public, with the public's perception, as well as how it fits in the community setting," Kornowicz said.

This exhibition displays the unique ability of artists to address an issue such as change, Kornowicz said.

"Change is something that affects everyone, and as an exhibition there's something for everyone," Kornowicz said. "Artists tend to be a bit more vulnerable when speaking about certain things, and this is a great way to show the importance of the subject."