September 17, 2010 | Myrna Anderson

Intern at the GRAM
Part of Tatjcha Hubert's work at the Grand Rapids Art Museum was sorting though all the GRAM's Art Prize entries.

In an exhibition space on the second floor of the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), there was a population of little humans, modeled out of clay and installed on the wall—each to its own shelf.  “That’s my favorite,” Tatjcha Huberts said, pointing at one figure in artist Kathy Stecko’s “Dreamscape.” Huberts walked to an adjacent space where a photograph of a highway filled one wall. The image, printed on a sheet of aluminum, is “Midland” by artist Al Wildey. “Isn’t it gorgeous?” she said.

Huberts, a Calvin senior art history major, was providing commentary on a few of the artworks already installed at GRAM for ArtPrize, the art contest that opens in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, September 22. Forty-three of the 1,713 artists entered in ArtPrize, will exhibit at GRAM, where she has worked as an intern since the end of May. And her first job at GRAM was helping to pick through the entries.

Picking through the entries

"We had 1,600 people apply to GRAM,” she said. “We’ve had to sort through every one … There were a couple of things that were way out there,” she allowed, “a couple of sculpture pieces that wouldn’t fit anywhere.”

Huberts, who is also helping out on the brochure and exhibition layout for the ArtPrize exhibition, is enjoying her work at GRAM—not all of which involves the big contest. Much of her typical workweek is taken up with cataloguing art prints from the museum’s extensive collection: checking them for damage, writing down the artist, title and date of the work and how it was created. “For fine art prints it’s just imperative to know what the method was for making it: etching, engraving, lithograph, screen print, intaglio, aquatint,” Huberts said. “There’s so many ways to do things, and artists combine them to create their prints.”

She likes interning in downtown GR. “It’s beyond amazing,” Huberts said, “because, I mean, growing up in Hudsonville, I’d go to Grand Rapids once in a while but I never got to explore it.

She likes art slides

Huberts’ interest in the fine arts was first sparked by her art teacher in high school. “In our art history class, they show slides, and everybody would groan, but I loved it,” she said. “I knew something was there.”

At Calvin, she majored in art history and studied in Spain. She also investigated internship opportunities, and GRAM was at the top of her wish list. “I wanted to work in an art museum in order to make a more informed decision with my life,” she said. After accruing a little museum experience, Huberts is ready for more. “I want to be a curator,” she said, “planning and organizing the exhibition and planning the layout and where we put it in the museum.”

Calvin’s curator, director of exhibitions Joel Zwart, said Huberts is gaining crucial experience for a career in museum studies:  “I took two internships when I was here as a student at Calvin. One was at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and one was at the Muskegon Museum of Art,” he said. “My supervisor at the public museum gave me a reference for the graduate school I went to and the first job I got out of grad school. And both reinforced my desire to go into my field.”

The benefit of experience

Art history professor Craig Hanson seconded Zwart: “Tatjcha has, I think, benefitted tremendously from the experience of interning at the GRAM. In many ways, she's an especially good fit for the opportunity: she's nearly finished her art history courses and is making plans for graduate school in museum studies,” Hanson said. “This sort of hands-on experience helps a student envision what a museum career would actually look like, and Tatjcha's base of knowledge, combined with her enthusiasm and social skills, means she has something to offer in return.”

Huberts can envision a career in New York, Washington D.C. or Chicago— She would love to travel to Japan, maybe do a whole tour of the Pacific Rim. “I’d love to go to China to see the terra cotta soldiers,” she said. She’d like to see Europe again.

Meantime, Huberts is watching as ArtPrize comes to the GRAM: “We have this amazing felt artist coming in who’s going to cover one of our walls with felt.” she said.

Tatjcha HUberts at the GRAM

Tatjcha Huberts enjoying an ArtPrize installation

(106) Division

Last year, ArtPrize caught Joel Zwart by surprise. The Calvin director of exhibitions had already committed Calvin’s (106) South Division for a show, but he eked out some space to exhibit a handful of ArtPrize entries. This year, all of (106) will be filled with the art of ArtPrize artists: "There are 12 artists, two faculty members, one alumnus and then nine other artists,” Zwart said. "Amongst those artists we’ve got a really nice mix of people from across the country.”

Many media

(106) is hosting artists from Utah, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Detroit and Grand Rapids. With the wide-ranging artists come a wide range of media, Zwart said: “We have some photorealism painting. We have printmaking. We have ceramics. We have a number of different sculptural installations. One of them in particular is a cut-paper installation (which) uses light from inside the gallery and light from outside the gallery to create different kinds of patterns at times of the day.”

A themed show

One thing that might set (106) apart from other ArtPrize venues is the fact that Zwart chose entries for the site based on a theme. “I call it ‘Configuration’ because all of the artists deal with the notion of pattern, shape and form in how it’s arranged,” he said. "So, I was actually putting together a show. I think if there’s an advantage to going to 106, it’s that the work makes sense together.” He likes the boost that ArtPrize gave to attendance last year at Calvin’s downtown gallery, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance. “It’s just a great way to expose our gallery to the public,” he said.

Calvin faculty are showing at ArtPrize:

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