Florence Portfolio gallery themed around sacrifice

Hannah DeVries – Staff Writer

There’s a new display in the art gallery on campus this semester, and there’s a story behind it that reaches far beyond frozen Sioux Center and into the heart of Florence, Italy.

The gallery’s name is Florence Portfolio: Sacrifice, and it features 20 framed intaglio prints and a wood and stone presentation box designed specifically for these same prints. The prints are creations of six members of the organization Christians in the Visual Arts who worked in close proximity with one another in Florence, Italy. Their goal was to produce a completed portfolio in the space of only one month.

The theme of the show is sacrifice, and while the figures that fill the paintings may be blurred and indistinct, the emotion is no less rich.

“The artists responded to the theme of sacrifice and to the biblical narrative that deals with the story of sacrifice,” said art professor David Versluis.

This theme can be clearly seen in prints such as “The Sacrifice of Isaac” by Edward Knippers and “Cloud of Witness” by Tanja Butler.

“I always like the form or at least looking how the artist took the biblical narrative and responded to it in biblical form,” said Versluis. “Even though the subject matter can be very dark, there is something there we need to consider ass viewers, and gain some appreciation for that kind of image making.” 

The style in which the prints are made has a historical significance in itself. “Intaglio” started out as a method of engraving images or designs onto jewelry and utensils. They were later filled with ink and, even later, these designs were pressed onto paper. Today, intaglio prints are made by scraping away at metal plates, filling these scrapes and grooves with ink, and running the plate through a press which allows the ink to be transferred to paper.

A subtler theme also lies behind the art, one of fellowship and a collaborative spirit held by the artists as they came together to create their work in one studio, said Versluis.

“Whomever is going into the gallery to look at the work can ask themselves how they would answer the question of how one print on one side of the gallery is related to a different print on the other,” said Versluis.

This relationship doesn’t exist solely in the theme of the prints, but also in the fact that the artists themselves were working in close proximity not only to one another, but with a historically rich part of the world.

Florence Portfolio: Sacrifice will be in the Dordt College Art Gallery through February 16, after which junior and senior art projects will be on display.

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