Distinguished curator teaches students about art

GVL/Michael Dykstra
Incendiary Iconography.  Student- Megan Lendman.  5th year photography major.

GVL/Michael Dykstra Incendiary Iconography. Student- Megan Lendman. 5th year photography major.

Shelby Pendowski

A committee of Grand Valley State University Art and Design department professors secured a handful of speakers to enlighten their students on career choices following graduation and to enhance the curriculum.

Gwynne Rukenbrod-Smith, curator and executive director of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), was selected.

“Gwynne is just really dynamic, and I have worked with her for two years now and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, she has so much to offer the students,’” said Renee Zettle-Sterling, GVSU professor and committee member. “In terms of everything that she has done and all the different positions she has held, I just want the students to understand that to be a creative individual just doesn’t mean they have to make difficult things.”

On March 11 at 7 p.m., Rukenbrod-Smith will give a lecture called “Lean In, Get Messy and Find your Superpowers” in the Mary Idema Pew Library.

“Grand Valley, in some ways, is somewhat isolated,” Zettle-Sterling said. “I just really believe that the students need to be exposed to these kinds of things, and the value is it broadens our perspectives and makes them question things without really having to leave Grand Valley.”

The presentation is open to everyone and will address how Rukenbrod-Smith came to follow her creative path and how others can do the same.

“We as a department have something called a Visiting Artist Committee, and so each year the money in the budget kind of floats around on who gets it; so we all kind of benefit,” Zettle-Sterling said. “So maybe one year it’ll be printmaking or the next year it’ll be for sculpture. So, this year, it’ll be foundations – which is the six classes the students have to take before entering into the department.”

Throughout the week, the curator will work with various classes. While visiting GVSU, Rukenbrod-Smith will also conduct two workshops on March 13 for students interested in enhancing their portfolios and learning how to approach galleries.

“The workshop is primarily for artists,” Zettle-Sterling said. “She is going to go over her professional development – like how to create a gallery (and) how to do your artist’s statements. There is going to be two of them (workshops) and they are going to be exactly the same. I just thought, even if some our alum want to come back to take the workshop, or I have emailed some people in communications and just sort of talk to them about this too in case some photo people would like to take the workshop.”

These workshops are geared toward art students and are open to sophomore, junior and senior students.

“She has a lot of experience of approaching galleries and how they need to be approached, so I think that she will have a lot to offer,” Zettle-Sterling said.

Rukenbrod-Smith was the curator of the Houston Center of Contemporary Craft from 2008-2010, executive director of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers and art curator of the Works – the Ohio Center of History, Art and Technology.

For more information on the event, contact the Art and Design department at (616) 331-3486 or visit www.gvsu.edu/art/.