University welcomes latest Stuart and Barbara Padnos Distinguished Artist-in-Residence

Shelby Pendowski

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Last year, Grand Valley State University posted an advertisement searching for a talented artist to become the next Artist-in-Residence. Following a handful of interviews and a campus tour, Nayda Collazo-Llorens was hired as Stuart and Barbara Padnos Distinguished Artist-in-Residence. Collazo-Llorens dabbles in all art mediums and has extensive experience in the art field.

“I think there is a lot of flexibility and elasticity as to what this position can do, or at least that is my take on it,” Collazo-Llorens said. “I am here in this community so a big part of it is engaging with the community.”

While at GVSU, the artist will not only teach but also focus on her own work, which is inspired by the people around her.

“Lately, I have been dealing with how our minds perceive things and process them,” she said. “I am really intrigued how we navigate that.”

The exchange of information that she is already starting to receive from other faculty members and students assists in her exploring this inspiration. Collazo-Llorens will instruct students in various intermediate courses this school year.

“The fact that I am teaching this intermediate drawing class allows me to develop the course a bit more conceptually,” she said. “They know how to draw and they know how to do it well. It is taking them beyond. It is not as much as drawing what you see but creating.”

The structure of her class includes looking at the work of various artists around the world and allowing for students to just explore the depths of their own creativity.

The position, a yearlong commitment, is foremost an opportunity, according to Collazo-Llorens.

It is an opportunity to expand her knowledge and to expand the knowledge of the people she will come into contact with.

“I bring my experience and my interests in interdisciplinary research through which I hope to engage in a dialogue with the community of GVSU,” Collazo-Llorens said. “I believe I can add to this dialogue from the perspective of an artist formerly based in New York, and as a queer Latina visual artist from San Juan, Puerto Rico.”

It is her extensive work around the country, the world and in different artistic mediums such as painting, drawing and printmaking that makes Collazo-Llorens a great addition to the current GVSU staff.

“I am engaged in a multi-disciplinary practice, which means that I work in various mediums such as drawing on paper and canvas, video, installation works, text-based works and interventions, among others,” Collazo-Llorens said. “This allows me to engage my research, new ideas and projects in a broad way, without being limited by any particular medium.”

Before coming to GVSU, the artist received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her MFA from New York University. Collazo-Llorens has also taught throughout the country at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University School of Art and Kalamazoo College.

“For now all I can say that it’s a great opportunity and I am very excited about it.”

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