The exhibit, “Island Reflections: The Contemporary Art of Curacao,” at the DePree Art Center on the campus of Hope College, showcases creative expressions of artists living on Curacao, a small Caribbean island just off the coast of Venezuela.
The exhibit is the first of its kind to be showcased in the United States, according to guest curator Susan Wilczak.
“Nobody can recall ever having a group exhibit of contemporary Curacaon artists in the United States … so, it’s a big deal,” Wilczak said.
Wilczak, an art history lecturer at Hope College, got the idea to bring the exhibit to Holland after she visited the island in 2010. The artwork she saw amazed her, she said.
“It opened my eyes not only to the historical legacy of the artistic achievement but also to a larger and diverse and quite prolific contemporary community of artists,” Wilczak said. “I decided a nice exhibit representative of the contemporary Curacao artists would be of interest to the larger world,” so that’s how the idea of the exhibit was born.
Because Curacao culture is heavily influenced by Dutch colonists, Wilczak thought exhibit-goers might find some similarities between life on the island and life in West Michigan.
“The area in Southwest Michigan is so heavily influenced with the Dutch, I thought there might be a nice connection with the community — not just the Hope College community, but the broader community as well,” she said.
In addition, Curacao is influenced by a variety of cultures including African, European and Spanish. This potpourri of influences come through in the creative expressions of the artists, according to Wilczak.
“You really have a melting pot of cultures and religions,” she said.
Pieces of the natural environment of the island also are woven into the pieces. Native woods, quarry made on the island and thorns created from brush prevalent in the area are featured in the pieces, she said.
Wilczak chose the works of 10 artists who make their home in Curacao.
“I wanted people that were actively working there and contributing to Curacao’s society,” she said.
Wilczak promises the exhibit will be something never before seen.
“Chances are you have not seen this artwork before,” Wilczak said.
“(There is) a large variety for people to come and visit and be exposed to and have an introduction to this very vibrant and culturally rich country.”
IF YOU GO
‘Island Reflections: The Contemporary Art of Curacao’
When: Friday through Oct. 1
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday; 4 p.m. artist talk and reception Sept. 9
Where: De Pree Art Center, 160 E. 12th St., Holland
More info: 395-7500, hope.edu/arts
For the original report go to http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/08/holland_gallery_showcases_work.html