GV Art Gallery exhibit features beauty and body


GVL / Bri Conway. On loan from Michael McVickar and Brian Westphal. Left, William Fisk “Untitled #33, (Lighter),” 2003, Right, Maria Tomasula, “Royalty,” 2008

Colleen Garcia, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University opened a new exhibit entitled “As is: Beauty and the Body in Contemporary Art” at the GVSU Art Gallery in the Haas Center for Performing Arts. The art gallery features pieces created by a total of 20 different artists.  

The gallery explores the human body through the artist’s interpretations of the body’s role as both a personal object and its role in a shared space. The art tackles ideas of identity and beauty through presentation of the human form. 

Joel Zwart, the Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at GVSU, said the exhibition was selected by the GVSU Art Gallery from a private gallery in Chicago. Zwart wanted to bring the art and its message to the GVSU community.  

Our bodies are complex entities where concepts of beauty, self, gender and identity intersect,” Zwart said. “We felt that an exhibition that could explore these and other topics within the gallery’s learning environment at GVSU would be beneficial for our audience.”

Those who visit the gallery will have the opportunity to see how artists combined art with the human body. The exhibit will feature various art mediums including drawing, photography and painting. 

“Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see a variety of methods that artists use to represent the human body and a variety of ways in which they use artwork to ask questions about age, race, gender and status,” Zwart said. 

Zwart said the different types of art within the exhibition can be very different yet still evoke emotion from the viewers.

Featured in the gallery are Nicholas V. Sanchez’s ballpoint pen drawings of people he meets. Zwart describes these images as “small, quiet and beautifully rendered.” Additionally, an oil painting created by Ruprecht von Kaufmann and a charcoal painting made by Clio Newton will also be shown.

Each piece of work on display has a label that describes the topic and meaning of the art. The collectors of the art have also given statements in the gallery so that their perspectives can be provided for others. 

“Working with the collectors in Chicago who own the artwork, we wanted the exhibition to emphasize the work of contemporary artists engaging the body and questions that arise about how we see ourselves and how others see us,” Zwart said. “We also wanted to reflect the vision of the collectors who have put time and energy into collecting it.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, artists had to find new ways to share their art with others.

As restrictions are lifted, many members of the art community are excited to showcase their work to others. The GVSU Art Gallery had made adaptations during restrictions such as a virtual 3D gallery on their website to help create a sense of an in-person experience. However, Zwart is excited about the opportunity to bring individuals back into the physical space. 

“Probably the most exciting thing as restrictions are lifted is to be able to allow our audience to resume viewing artwork directly in person and for them to engage in conversation while in the gallery space,” Zwart said.

Zwart said the goal of bringing these new art exhibitions to GVSU is to create conversations and bring new perspectives. 

“We hope the exhibition prompts conversation, questions and understanding about our shared human experiences,” Zwart said. 

The gallery will also host an opening reception for this exhibit on Sept. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Those who wish to attend can RSVP on the gallery’s website. The exhibit will be open until Nov. 4, 2022 and is free to the community.