Allison Wordes—Staff Writer
What do art professors do in their free time? Unbeknownst to many, professors are furthering their own art careers alongside giving lectures and grading quizzes. While they’re here to help students learn, professors readily share their individuality.
Monday, Oct. 23, four of Dordt’s art faculty shared their latest and greatest works with an art gallery reception in Dordt’s Campus Center. David Versluis, Matthew Drissell, Jacob Van Wyk, and Doug Burg presented their work.
Each artist has what is called an artist’s statement for his pieces. This statement is a paragraph or two explaining the piece, and what the artist intended it to mean, or describing the creative process. The professors made statements to pair with their choice of artwork for the gallery.
“I want to do something… so I do everything,” said Van Wyk. Most of his ceramic work is functional, and he often takes commissions. He says the professors make their own discoveries outside of class. For the most part, Van Wyk works mostly in obscurity in his studio.
One of his clay sculptures, “Submission,” is 400 pounds and took several months to complete. Some of the installed art on campus is his work.
“I want to challenge myself,” said Van Wyk, “see how far I can push something.” Van Wyk continues to share his knowledge by teaching ceramics classes, although he has retired from full-time teaching. There is a need to share experience, he said. Both he and Versluis also included printmaking work in this show.
Burg, who teaches photography classes at Dordt, revels in abstract photography. One of his art prints was a close-up of stainless steel. The brilliant, almost neon hue drew the attention of the 15 or 20 talk attendees. He described in his presentation how he teaches his students about “creating images” rather than just finding images.
Drissell teaches traditional and modern studio arts and art history. His inspiration for his gallery pieces were the black walnut trees near his house. He would hear pops at random times of day, like gunshots—the sound of cars driving over the walnuts scattered on the road. He decided to take this interest to a professional level.
Once he gathered all his materials, he drove over the walnuts with his van. The result—tire tracks and smashed, coffee-stained splotches. Returning to the work later, he added paintings of houses and explored the concept of relationships with neighbors, using the houses and vehicles from his neighborhood found on Google Maps. He observed how the buildings and people around him changed over time. Two of the paintings in his series sold in a previous show.
Versluis, professor of graphic design and printmaker, as well as the gallery installer, presented a series of “primary structures” including 15 pieces created from recycled materials. The works displayed examples of tint and shade, teaching students about value. Everyone sees light differently, said Versluis, and color is a personal experience.
Some of Versluis’ art is on display in other places. In Edina, Minnesota, he designed a piece for “temporary loan,” working together with a welder to craft the tall, metal structure. Design is mostly method, and can be predictable for the most part. Yet, Versluis noted that “there are surprises, always.”
“Do you know how hard it is to paint outside, with the wind, and the bugs in your face?” said Van Wyk on his outdoor paintings on display. Art is something he puts his heart and soul into.
2009 graduate David Lammers, an engineering and fine arts major, attended the gallery show. He now teaches welding at Dordt, but he remembers taking sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, and other classes with the art department.
“It’s a nice gallery for these pieces,” said Lammers. He owns some of Van Wyk’s pieces in his vast art collection. Other attendees included Core 160 students, Vice President Forseth, and President Hoekstra and Barb Hoekstra.
Van Wyk encourages students to pop in and look at the galleries.