GV students, faculty, alumni featured in WSU exhibit

Courtesy / Renee Zettle-Sterling

Courtesy / Renee Zettle-Sterling

Sarah Edgecomb

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Grand Valley State University’s jewelry and metalsmithing program submitted artwork to represent the university in Wayne State University’s “Metals 2019” exhibit. The collection was comprised of metalwork done by students, professors and alumni from 10 universities in the Midwest region.

The exhibit was sponsored by the Michigan Silversmith Guild, an organization that was formed in 1949 to help metalworkers promote their art, share information and form a community. WSU sculpture and metals professor Katie MacDonald organized the event, calling upon local universities with metals programs to submit work for the exhibition. While a majority of the participating universities hail from Michigan, students from campuses in Ohio and Pennsylvania also sent in artwork.

GVSU Professor of Art and Design Renee Zettle-Sterling said that she selected the participating artists through their expertise and previous work. Five students and two alumni were chosen to submit work for the exhibit, along with Zettle-Sterling and fellow professors Peter Antor and Caitlyn Skelcey. 

While the exhibit didn’t have a theme, choosing instead to showcase general metalsmithing, it gave students, staff and alumni an opportunity to network and gain exposure.

“It’s just a representation of the work produced at each school,” Zettle-Sterling said. The exhibition displayed jewelry, sculptures and other metalwork.

Emma Hoekstra, a 2018 fine arts graduate who specializes in jewelry making, said that receiving the invitation from her former professor was exciting. She submitted work from her senior show that included a necklace composed of triangular metal pieces and a ring that featured a gemstone encompassed by jagged metal. Hoekstra said that she received an inquiry to purchase one of her pieces, saying that the experience was “encouraging.”

“This exhibition was my first time exhibiting my work since I graduated,” Hoekstra said. “I think it is so important to get your work out there in as many ways as you possibly can.”

While Hoekstra shares her work through social media and her website, she said that exhibitions can “draw a new type of audience” that artists would not otherwise have, adding that GVSU offers students and alumni ample occasions to showcase their work.

“What I love about my college education is the network of people that came from it and the many opportunities that have been presented to me since. They really want to see you succeed,” Hoekstra said.

The exhibit was on display at the Wayne State University Art Department Gallery between Friday, Jan. 11 and Friday, Feb. 1.