New CLAS Scholar-in-Residence position designed to enhance value of GVSU arts and humanities programs

An art historian with deep ties to West Michigan has begun his work as the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Henry Luttikhuizen is serving in the position that was established after donors expressed an interest in creating a position at Grand Valley that would emphasize the value of the arts and humanities for lifetime learning and the role that they play in catalyzing critical community and cross-cultural conversations, said CLAS Dean Jennifer Drake.

“I appreciate the rich conversations I had with these donors as we talked about our shared commitment to liberal education broadly and the arts and humanities specifically," Drake said. "The Scholar-in-Residence program demonstrates the value of knowledge production in arts and humanities disciplines and the role that knowledge plays in community engagement. 

"I have already enjoyed several of Dr. Luttikhuizen’s art talks, and I look forward to seeing the ways in which he will work with community partners to support PK-12 arts education and connect CLAS students to opportunities in West Michigan’s arts organizations.”

A person smiles as part of a portrait. A piece of public art and a tree branch with colorful leaves are in the background.
Henry Luttikhuizen is serving as the CLAS Scholar-in-Residence.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Luttikhuizen, a professor emeritus of art history at Calvin University, is a specialist in Dutch art from 1400-1700 who is also currently working on a team that is revising an art history textbook. He has also worked extensively with museums and art institutions in the West Michigan area.

“I think probably the best way of describing what I do is to be a cultural liaison," Luttikhuizen said. "I see myself promoting arts and humanities through exhibitions, through lecturing to the community and through working with area arts institutions to improve the ways they display their works."

Fundamentally, he said, "I hope that people get a sense that arts and humanities are an integral part of what it means to be human."

Luttikhuizen currently is helping to organize and curate a major exhibition of prints at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and is serving as a consultant at the Holland Museum for a presentation of 17th-century paintings housed there. He also did a talk on "The Judgment of Paris" for GVSU's recent Homerathon. 

He said he hopes his time at Grand Valley allows him to work with students, such as when he is curating an exhibition. And he hopes he can help strengthen the bridges already built between West Michigan institutions and Grand Valley – and that students will also benefit from that network.

He also noted that he was struck by the artwork displayed throughout the GVSU grounds, which  immediately signified to him the university's commitment to art. He said he believes that environment has also helped foster the sense of community he has experienced since coming to GVSU.

In a black and white photo, a person smiles while standing in a hallway.
Henry Luttikhuizen said arts and humanities play an important role in lifelong learning.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Luttikhuizen is a strong believer in lifelong learning and how arts and humanities provide an essential foundation for the twists and turns of life. In fact, he was studying architecture when his mother offered to pay for him to take an art history class. A study abroad opportunity developed after that, and he said he eventually found himself unexpectedly in an art history career.

What is it about the arts that captured his interest?

"The sense of wonder. I think education starts with wonder and trying to sort out what it is I’m seeing. I find that fascinating," Luttikhuizen said. "I’m very interested in how people perceive things, how things are used. How it is affecting people? How does it reinforce expectations? How does it change expectations?"


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