GVSU students coproduce an aesthetic exhibit

GVL/Brianna Olson

GVL/Brianna Olson

Moriah Gilbert

Each year, students at Grand Valley State University who are enrolled in the curatorial studio course come together to host different art exhibits. The curatorial studio course is open to all students no matter their major.

“Curating creates ideas in the realm of imagination and representation,” said professor Paul Wittenbraker. “It’s how we determine and present ideas that are relevant to the challenges of being a human right now.”

Students started the semester with a project called “Six,” consisting of six micro-exhibits in six days that will be on display in the Padnos Student Gallery, located in the GVSU Calder Art Center.

“We are really fortunate to have the Padnos Student Gallery to use for this project because we’re able to immerse ourselves in such a rich curatorial context,” Wittenbraker said. “Many majors have practical content knowledge to synchronize ideas with each other to learn about collaboration, integration and interdisciplinary inquiries.”

This curatorial studio course encourages those involved to take their knowledge from their major and apply it to art. However, with so many ideas and backgrounds, keeping all the ideas straight has caused the project to be more challenging.

“I think the main challenge for me will be getting used to viewing curatorial work from an artistic standpoint,” said Jeremy Coldicott, an anthropology major in the class. “I suppose it’s like dipping my toes in new water.”

Coldicott took the course at the recommendation of a professor with whom he consulted about a career in museum work.

“She said it would give me ideal hands-on experience with exhibit design, and I figured it would also allow me to diversify myself and the classroom as a whole,” Coldicott said.

Throughout the semester, the class will focus in more detail on the various aspects of curating. The students will not only display their work at the Padnos Student Gallery, but also around the Grand Rapids area, including at the UICA in downtown Grand Rapids.

“The micro-exhibits are all generated from the same archive of artifacts,” Wittenbraker said. “Taken as a whole, the micro-exhibits demonstrate how various contexts and combinations effect and create different meanings.”

Curatorial studio is one of the five courses of GVSU’s visual studies program. All are open to non-majors and dynamically engaged in cultural project work. The purpose of the class goes beyond the world of academia; it sets to inspire students to express themselves to each other and those around them in a more creative way.

“It’s so exciting to think about challenges that we have as a society and how to solve those problems,” Wittenbraker said. “There are great rewards, but it’s not always happy and clear.”

“Six” will be on display from Jan. 5-15. There will be a light reception open to the public from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 14.