GV to showcase student art with “A Reluctant Adornment”


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Ayron Rutan, Staff Writer

A face covering has become a necessary thing in every student and professor life at Grand Valley State University. Since March of 2020, many have adapted to a lifestyle where masks are a common sight in public. 

The mask has become a political statement, a fashion accessory and a medium for self-expression. 

With the help of GV Professor of Jewelry, Metalsmithing and Foundations Renee Zettle-Sterling and Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewelry, Metalsmithing and Three-Dimensional Design Laurel Fulton, GVSU will be featuring “The Mask: A Reluctant Adornment”. This new exhibition is a part of the “Call For Entry” series, where students are asked to submit works of their own to be displayed as a part of a particular exhibition. “A Reluctant Adornment” will be on display in the Padnos Student Art Gallery in the Calder Art Center from Feb. 28 – March 25. 

This new exhibition takes a look at the mask as an artistic medium, and asks students to create art pieces that express their feeling about the mask, the current COVID-19 situation or that reflect on its impact in their own lives. Zettle-Sterling said that the idea for the exhibition ultimately stemmed from a desire to encourage students to think more deeply about the world around them. 

“The COVD-19 mask is one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of the virus, but it’s also so much more than a tool,” Zettle-Sterling said. “It has become a space for controversy, a battleground for political beliefs or a simple expression of your interests—a canvas for expression. The mask has become a necessary but reluctant form of adornment and a powerful expression of our times. I am curating this show with my colleague Laurel Fulton. As Jewelry and Metalsmithing professors who teach students to think about the power of adornment, the mask is a fascinating and charged object and is worthy of introspection.” 

An exhibition like “A Reluctant Adornment” has great significance to not only the curating professors and participating students but the entire GVSU community as a whole. Both professors said that the event creates a place where a hard topic can be shared and discussed freely and easily. 

“It’s significant because it gives a space for expression regarding an object and topic that is far from being easy on both a personal and collective level,” Fulton and Zettle-Sterling said. “Whether you are agreeable to wearing a mask or not we can all agree it’s a very real and necessary struggle. This is important to us because we want to create a space that is open, reflects on our current situation and its impact on our world.” 

One of the most notable aspects of “A Reluctant Adornment” is the fact that it relies on student participation. In fact, the exhibition is open to anyone who’s a member of the Laker community. 

“All students, faculty, staff and administration are welcome to exhibit artwork, any material, in the exhibition as long as the work doesn’t hurt anyone or debase the sanctity of life,” Zettle-Sterling said.

There is still time to submit works to this exhibit. To participate in “A Reluctant Adornment,” students, faculty, staff and administration need to submit work to the Jewelry and Metalsmithing Studio at 1806 Calder Art Center between Feb 24-25, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.