New Blood exhibit displays student artwork destined for new housing building

Claire Fisher and Daniel Goubert

Upholding the values of the university and creating an aesthetically pleasing place to learn, the art around campus comes from both global and local sources and is an integral part of Grand Valley State University. And thanks to a new exhibit on GVSU’s Pew Campus, the university’s collection of over 13,000 art pieces will soon have a few more memorable members.

“It’s part of the university’s mission to introduce the students to the broadest type of worldview they can have,” said curator of exhibitions David Newell. “We have artwork from just about every continent, except, I’m told, Antarctica, and (art) representing just about every culture in our world…It’s just a chance to see a bigger world and increase their mindset, to also just have a better sense of a cultural world, and how that mixes with other areas of study.”

Opening on Jan. 11, the New Blood exhibit in the West Wall Gallery, located in the conference hall lobby of the L.V. Eberhard Center, features 16 pieces created by members of the GVSU community. The pieces in the exhibit are temporarily on display in the West Wall Gallery until they are permanently installed into other places around campus during the summer, such as the Allendale Campus’ new housing building.

“(The New Blood show) is a chance to let us celebrate the talents of the students,” Newell said. “The artwork in the exhibit is drawn from the senior (bachelor of fine arts) shows that the art students have and also from the school of communications senior thesis show.”

Director of housing and health services Andy Beachnau said student artwork like the pieces in the New Blood exhibit generate a particularly noticeable response.

“What we’ve found is that when we hang student art or Grand Valley alumni art, (other students) respect it and leave it alone,” he said. “Art is a part of teaching or knowing, so when you see it, (you know) there’s a story behind the art piece, there’s a story about the author, there’s a story about that moment in time when he or she took that photo or built that piece.

Beachnau also said having art all around campus is one of the things that makes GVSU unique compared to other universities. He said that the art helps to create comfortable spaces for students to live and learn.

“What makes Grand Valley special is that there’s art everywhere and we take that for granted,” he said. “The art makes the space personal for students. If you look at a grey, empty wall, it says, ‘Well this is not a space you want to spend time, and think and reflect.’ Art causes you to reflect, it causes you to think about your experiences, (and) it causes you to think about another person’s opinion.”

For the new housing building, the art galleries staff has been purchasing and collecting artwork relating to the theme of nature. Beachnau said the art is meant to reflect and complement the new building’s proximity to GVSU’s ravines, as well as the university’s mission.

“Nature is a good umbrella because it doesn’t offend anybody, Beachnau said. “It really kind of fits nicely, because the buildings are right up next to the woods and the ravines. It’s kind of a sustainability theme, too, so we identified it because it fits with the values of the university.”

Newell said the nature theme for the building also dominates the New Blood exhibit and shows off a lot of talent in student work at GVSU.

“A lot of the art in the (New Blood) show has a nature theme to it,” Newell said. “They include nature elements—be they flora or fauna—and just a nice variety of subject matter. It all ties back to this whole sense of nature and the natural environment. It just really shows the talent of the students that are coming to our programs.”

Photos and information about all artwork at GVSU, including the pieces in the New Blood exhibit, can be found through the university’s online art index at