September 21, 2011 | Myrna AndersonJoel Zwart

“500 Fortunes (A window of opportunity won't open itself)” takes the form of a nest.

Joel Zwart had some criteria in mind when he picked the artists who would display at Calvin’s (106) Gallery and Studio during this year’s edition of ArtPrize: “I was looking for work that was interesting—had a nice textural quality to it—and I wanted artists who were exploring the notions of place, environment and material,” he said.

What Zwart selected was an exhibition of work from nine different women artists from the United States and Canada. “There’s a connection to it all,” he explained. “I wanted to put on a good show, not just a selection of random art and artists. I wanted it to make sense to the visitor when they walked in.”

The artists

That show, “indefinite boundaries,” will be on display at (106) from Friday, September 9 through Sunday, October 9, the closing date of ArtPrize. It features painting, drawing, photography, video, fiber art—even a performance piece of a woman walking halfway across the country:

“A State of Transparency” is a textile piece by Karen Goetzinger, a mixed media artist from Ottawa, Ontario. “She does these large fabric pieces that have architectural references and renderings embedded in them,” Zwart said. “It creates its own little city, its own little place. It changes as you walk around and in it.” The artist describes her work as a “city brought to life…as the imprint of urban landscapes on individual memory.”

Another artist who also deals with the idea of place and memory is Grand Rapids artist Melanie Morris, whose “Home is Where the Heart Is” combines family photos, antique store photos, old letters, embroidery and ephemera in a quilt. “She’s dealing with issues of home and environment,” said Zwart. “There’s a wonderful connection between how some of these artists are exploring related issues, but through different artistic mediums and approaches.”

Laura Milkins is exploring similar themes, by walking from her home in Tucson, Ariz. to her mother’s home in Grand Rapids. “She has a video camera on her head, and she carries a laptop, so you can watch her live on her website at the gallery or from home,” said Zwart.

Milkins walks 15-25 miles a day, and stays with host families in each town along the way. She makes these connections through community organizations and friends who call ahead and create this chain of support. “It’s a wonderful example of how important community is to us, whether it’s in your own home town or one you’re passing through.” (When Zwart last talked to Milkins, she was outside of Madison; she will arrive in Grand Rapids during ArtPrize.)

Alumni artist

For “500 Fortunes (A window of opportunity won't open itself),” Elaine Tolsma Harlow, a ’92 Calvin grad from Plainwell, Mich., painted seven paintings—the largest one of a nest incorporating 500 fortunes from fortune cookies. “There’s this interesting tension,” said Zwart. “A nest is a home, but it’s made up of all these one-liners. The artist is raising the question about how you build your home, how you plan your life as it constantly changes—and she is poking fun at it a bit.”

 “Natura,” a fiber work by Calvin art professor Jo-Ann Van Reeuwyk, deals with the idea that many places can become sacred space. She writes about the piece, “My work is about internal and external space. I use elements of nature to produce three-dimensional forms that speak of sacred space.”

Zwart is looking forward to the Wednesday, September 21 ArtPrize opening. “We get such amazing exposure.” The (106) gallery hosted over 10,000 visitors during last year’s event. “It’s a great way for people to see that we’re invested in art, invested in ArtPrize and invested in the community,” he said.

Read more News and Stories.

ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos is the winner of the 2011 Horizon Award from Meeting Business Alumni (MBA@calvin).

View ArtPrize entries by Calvin alumni.

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