“History is Always Alive”

With this year’s 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into “the war to end all wars,” Hope College faculty and student researchers have delved into the multi-faceted ways Hope and Holland, Michigan, played a part in World War I. What they discovered are timeless tales of patriotism, immigration ideologies and wartime controversy.

Dr. Jeanne Petit, standing left, and Geoffrey Reynolds, standing right, led three Hope students — Avery Lowe, Aine O’Connor, and Natalie Fulk, seated left to right — in a research project on Hope and Holland’s involvement during World War I.

Led by History Professor and Department ChairDr. Jeanne Petit, and Geoffrey Reynolds, director of The Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College, three history majors — sophomore Aine O’Connor of South Bend, Indiana; junior Avery Lowe of North Muskegon, Michigan; and, senior Natalie Fulk of Mahomet, Illinois — have poured over both published and personal WWI materials left in the custody of the archives at the Theil Research Center.

The intensive eight-week project looked at a college and city predominantly populated by Dutch Americans and immigrants, asking ideological questions such as:

  • How do we understand diversity and patriotism during wartime?
  • What does a global economy mean and how does it work during war?
  • When should patriotism reside next to religion?
  • How are disabled vets rehabilitated and respected at home?

Each query became a not-so-subtle reminder that the more things change, the more they inevitably stay the same — especially when it comes to war.

“Many were asking the question, ‘Am I Dutch or am I American?’”

“You don’t learn about World War I history as much as World War II history, so this research was very interesting to me,” said Fulk. “We found so many stories that were unique to this war in Holland and at Hope due to Dutch immigrants or descendants of immigrants in the area and at this school. Many were asking the question, ‘Am I Dutch or am I American?’ I would say by the end of the war, many Hollanders started thinking of themselves as more American or Dutch-American instead of just Dutch due to a nationwide, patriotic push for national unity on the home front.”

World War I map of Archangel, Russia

Though the U.S. involvement in WWI lasted just over a year-and-a-half (April, 1917 to November, 1918), the Great War deeply affected the United States’ economy and psyche, and thus Holland and Hope’s. The atrocities of trench warfare, the growth of global trade and the renunciation of the advance of communism all had newly realized human and cultural costs. While Fulk researched the naturalization of Dutch and German immigrants in Holland, O’Connor investigated multiple stories of Hope students leaving the college to enlist, serving however and wherever they were sent.

“About 150 men left Hope [during the war] and they went everywhere from Eagle Pass, Texas, to Archangel, Siberia in Russia,” says O’Connor. “When I looked closer at their stories, I found that Hope seemed to write about them the same way they had written about graduates who had become missionaries. They were held up as these bastions of Christianity who were defying the corruption of the military. And, they were doing these incredibly heroic things like saving lives of other soldiers and working in hospitals. The range of what Hope soldiers did was amazing to me — they were chaplains, in the infantry, in the Navy, in the new air service. Men were doing border patrol with Mexico, and one man was in Panama doing scientific work.”

“I find myself thinking that 100 years from now, people could potentially be doing research on me, on all of us. I’m fascinated by that thought and perspective because it means history is always alive.”

And what was happening back at Hope while these men were away at war? “Women were enrolling in record numbers,” observed O’Connor, “because the war had decimated Hope’s enrollment. Women were invited to enroll at the college to boast numbers in the student body as men left campus, or never enrolled, so they could serve in the war.”

World War I Polar Bear Expedition artifacts

Two other stories uncovered by the team illuminated views on veteran disabilities, long before the Wounded Warrior Project, and the political and religious correctness of displaying the American flag on church pulpits given the Constitutional tenet of separation of church and state. These and more stories about a small town and college’s impact on and from the Great War will be published in this web exhibit to help visitors understand the larger and more specific issues that changed the U.S. and these researchers on multiple levels.

“This is the first time I conducted research,” Lowe explains.” As a history major, I find myself being obsessed with things that were going on before I was born and I find myself thinking that 100 years from now, people could potentially doing research on me, on all of us. I’m fascinated by that thought and perspective because it means history is always alive.”

Brian Coyle’s Jazzy Association

Jazz music may be America’s invention but like any great art form, it knows no borders. Jazz is as beloved in Tokyo as in New Orleans, as popular in Vienna as Chicago. And that’s the reason why Dr. Brian Coyle recently co-founded and now helps lead, as its vice president, the new International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers (ISJAC) of which the Hope College Jazz Studies program is a founding consortium member. Hope is one of only two liberal arts colleges on ISJAC’s directory of respected and innovative jazz schools.

Coyle is Hope’s director of jazz studies so it would seem natural for the college to quickly sign up to join such an organization. ISJAC is the first association, Coyle points out, specifically created for the service, advancement, and encouragement of jazz composers and arrangers. Numerous organizations exist for jazz performers but Coyle and his international colleagues are eager to highlight the achievements and advance the appreciation of jazz composition. The group held its first symposium — with some of the top names in jazz composition presenting and performing like 22-time Grammy winner Chick Corea — just three weeks ago in Tampa, Florida.

Dr. Brian Coyle, professor of music and director of jazz studies

“For Hope to be on the same list as some of the top jazz schools in the country and the world is exciting and quite a testament to what we have happening here,” says Coyle, a jazz composer himself who has also performed with the likes of Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, the John Cooper Jazz Orchestra, and Ravi Coltrane, to name a few.

Coyle seeks regularly to de-mystify what improvisation within composition means. The two terms may seem diametrically opposed, but it’s something we see everyday, and not just in jazz music.

Though classically trained on trumpet but also a pianist and drummer, Coyle’s deep affection and appreciation for jazz music stems from his fascination of taking musical control of a piece while giving it up at the same time. He loves that jazz is conversive and freestyling which makes it unlike any other kind of music. Its ad-libbed call-and-response vocal elements and its polyrhythms are patent art, as “patent” as ever-evolving jazz can be, and it grew out of blues and ragtime traditions in the early 20th century. Since then, jazz music has played its way through numerous eras such as big band, bebop, free jazz and jazz-rock fusion, but all had improvisation at the center.

Yet for many, improvisation, especially when mentioned in the same breathe as composition, is a mystery. Coyle knows this and seeks regularly to de-mystify what improvisation within composition means. The two terms may seem diametrically opposed, but it’s something we see everyday, and not just in jazz music.

The freedom, individuality, and collective art of jazz is “what makes it so cool,” Coyle declares with an artist’s flourish.

“Improvisation is really the thing we’ve been doing from birth,” Coyle explains. “We improvise all the time from our everyday lives. We improvise conversations and relationships. We improvise playing sports and games. Improvisation at its core is just language; it’s communication. As long as we both understand the same language, we can improvise all we want and we can have a deep conversation. That’s what jazz is.”

And that means, then, that a jazz piece — much like a work meeting attended, a basketball game played, or a day lived — is never performed the same way twice. The freedom, individuality and collective art of jazz is “what makes it so cool,” Coyle declares with an artist’s flourish.

Even though recorded jazz sales make up less than two percent of today’s global market, jazz music still has a ubiquitous place in American culture and society. It often pops up as the underscore in numerous television commercials and shows, and in the recent multi-Academy-nominated film, LaLa Land, which placed jazz music at the center of its storyline. At live music venues, jazz music is undoubtedly alive and well.

This all bodes well for Coyle, Hope and ISJAC. The more jazz music is visible and demanded, the more Coyle and others have to compose and arrange. And that means the more Hopes students will have opportunities to learn and perform, too.

Student’s Research Adds Fuel to Fast-Food Debate

If the fast-food industry ever does away with those crinkly but potentially harmful papers that your favorite burger comes wrapped in, one of the people you can thank is a physics-turned-history-major from Hope College.

Senior Margaret Dickinson concluded research on PFAS content in fast food wrappers, such as the ones she is holding, using the Pelletron particle accelerator on Hope’s campus.

Margaret Dickinson, a senior from Grand Rapids, MI, spent two years at Hope testing hundreds of fast-food wrappers from several states in order to detect per- and polyfluoro alkyl substances (PFAS) in the packaging. Human-made with long environmental lifetimes, PFASs are toxic to humans and animals, and its bioaccumulation is troubling to scientists.

Linked to some cancers and health disorders, PFAS is used in products to repel water and retard flames, and has been found in carpet, furniture fabrics, textiles and outdoor clothing, cosmetics, fire-fighting foam, microwave popcorn bags, and, yes, fast-food wrappers.

“The best part about doing research as an undergrad is learning how to ask difficult questions and learning how to find their answers. Often we were on our own in the lab, working with expensive machinery, and we had to calmly work out problems quickly.”

“Around fifty years ago, PFAS was not found in anyone’s blood at all. It did not even exist,” explains Dickinson. “Now it is in measurable quantities in every human being, and that includes newborn babies because it passes through the bloodstream from the mother to the fetus.” PFAS has even reached the blood streams of polar bears in the North Pole.

Stockpiles of tested fast-food wrappers

Using the Pelletron particle accelerator on Hope’s campus, under the guidance of Professor Dr. Paul DeYoung and former Hope Professor Dr. Graham Peaslee, Dickinson and fellow senior David Lunderberg, along with alumnus Nick Hubley ’14, used a testing technique called PIGE, particle-induced gamma-ray emission, to detect fluorine in the wrapper samples. But because the paper is fragile and the proton beam from the accelerator is powerful, Dickinson and team had to refine their normal testing methods so as not to destroy their paper samples.

“The best part about doing research as an undergrad is learning how to ask difficult questions and learning how to find their answers,” Dickinson declares. “Often we were on our own in the lab, working with expensive machinery, and we had to calmly work out problems quickly. You learn how not to panic, when to get help, when to work independently. These are all good skills to have in life, too.”

It’s good to remember that not all fast-food wrappers have PFAS, she notes, but since you don’t know which do or don’t, the best thing to do is take your food out of their wrappers and containers as soon as possible.

The Hope crew’s efforts over two years, in collaboration with other well-known research powerhouses, found that 38% of the sandwich and burger wrappers tested, along with 20% of the paperboard and 56% of the dessert and bread wrappers had PFAS in them. However, 0% of the tested paper cups had PFAS. While skeptics note that consumers aren’t actually ingesting the wrappers themselves (so what’s the harm?), scientists argue that it is the high temperatures of the food that allows wrapper-holding PFAS to seep into your burger and fries.

Other teams contributing to the research were from Silent Spring Institute, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Green Science Policy Institute, the Environmental Working Group, and Oregon State University. News of their joint research broke in February 2017, and Dickinson reports that over 200 news outlets have since carried the story.

So what’s a consumer to do? Give up fast-food?

Not all fast-food wrappers have PFAS, Dickinson says, but since you don’t know which ones do or don’t, the best thing to do is take your food out of its wrappers and containers as soon as possible because the greater the exposure to PFAS, the higher the levels in one’s system. Still, “Everything in moderation,” Dickinson reminds.

“All along it was really important for me that my research made a difference. I needed to see that it had an effect on people.”

No longer focused on physics, Dickinson changed her major area of study to history after a personal epiphany while studying abroad in London in 2015 (she also has minors in math, classical studies, and, of course, physics.)

She hopes to eventually teach modern British history at the college level, or even go into scientific governance — the realm of looking at how scientists are affected by policies made by non-scientists. It is here where this fully formed liberal arts student knows she could best apply her experiences in sciences, skills in research, and passion for history and politics to affect others for the better.

“All along it was really important for me that my research made a difference. I needed to see that it had an effect on people,” concludes Dickinson. “I hope eventually that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) bans these chemicals. I hope that fast-food companies realize that wax paper is just as cheap. Half the time they use it anyways, so why not all the time? Why not put pressure on the companies that are supplying the paper to switch over. It’s not difficult to switch and it’s not expensive. That would be the goal.”

Hope 2017: A Watch List

New year. New semester. New classes. New start.

The bisected rhythm of an academic year is something special. It affords faculty, staff and students two yearly markers for two new beginnings that most other entities and professions do not. In academia, new starts come at the end of summer (and the official start of a new school year) and at the end of 365 previous days (and the official start of a new calendar year). And each gives new opportunities to look at what’s to come on our educational horizon.

It is once a year or in a lifetime events that brighten our mission statement with even more living color, those things that make a Hope education as fresh as a new year or semester.

At Hope, we’ve done our fair share of looking ahead. We’re not wishing our days away, mind you, but we cannot help but be excited about what 2017 has in store on campus. Of course, we’re always mindful of the everyday privilege “to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.”  Yet, it is once-a-year, or in a lifetime, events that brighten our mission statement with even more living color, those things that make a Hope education as fresh as a new year or semester.

Here is a list of the top five Hope happenings to watch for in this New Year, from new buildings to new institutes to new classes.

  1. Student Space Expands

One has been a little over a year-and-a-half  in the making, the other about eight months. Each will give students new space for living and learning in 2017.

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Construction on the $22.5 million Bultman Center nears completion.

The Bultman Student Center, a 42,000-square-foot facility devoted to student activities in the heart of campus, will reach its completion in the spring of 2017. It is hoped that students will get their first look inside their new communal home this April. Ground broke for its $22.5 million construction in the fall of 2015 and since then, this campus epicenter has been taking shape to the excitement of student life offices and groups longing to use it. Named for former presidential duo, Jim and Marti Bultman, the center will be dedicated in the fall of 2017.

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The Cook Village will have two new apartment buildings which will house 16 students by fall 2017.

Cook Village, the student apartment complex that stands in the “U” along Lincoln Avenue and 11th and 12th Streets, is being expanded, adding two more townhouse-style buildings to the four that already exist. At about 3,800 square feet in each, the new brick apartments will house 16 more students. The $1.8 million addition to the village, named for its major donor, the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, will be completed by the fall of 2017 to welcome new inhabitants for the 2017-18 school year.

2. Toward a Better Understanding of Our Global Society

A series of lectures on wide-ranging international topics will be hosted at Hope in conjunction with the World Affair Council of West Michigan in the spring of 2017. Bringing renowned experts to campus, which include a retired brigadier general and former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan on Mondays, starting February 7 and ending April 3, the “Great Decision Global Discussion Series” will address hot topics such Latin American health care, clashes in the South China Sea, and the future of the European Union, to name a few. It is a perfect example of Hope’s prioritization to provide the campus community with opportunities for global understanding.

“By bringing foreign policy experts to campus, we live into our liberal arts mission to prepare our students to faithfully engage an increasingly complex and interconnected global society,” says Dr. Dede Johnston, professor of communication and Hope’s liaison with the World Affairs Council of West Michigan. Hope is an educational partner of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, which informs and engages people of all ages on matters of national and international importance, and explores how national policy and global events affect the community in West Michigan.

3. New Institute to Prepare Students for Vocational Future

GeorgeAndSibillaBoerigter
George ’61 and Sibilla Boerigter

The Boerigter Institute, a new, college-wide initiative, will help ensure that every Hope student is robustly prepared for career success and professional growth. The goal of the Boerigter Institute is to transform the college’s approach to career preparation with an innovative and comprehensive framework that guides students from their first semester onward by identifying their strengths and interests, and engaging them in career planning and experiential learning. It will more closely link multiple departments and programs at the college.

This significant effort is made possible by a major gift from SoundOff Signal in honor of Founder and Chairman George Boerigter, who is a 1961 Hope graduate, and his wife, Sibilla. A task force of Hope faculty and staff is currently working to develop this new, cross-functional integrated program, bearing the Boerigters’ name, which is scheduled to begin implementation by fall 2017.

4. Happy Anniversary, Reformation!

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Reformer Martin Luther, 1483-1546

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther changed the course of Christian history for 95 reasons. It was on that day that the once anonymous monk and scholar delivered his “Ninety-Five Theses” to a Roman Catholic Church in Wittenberg, Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation and altering the progression and understanding of Christianity as the world once knew it.

As a school affiliated with the Reformed Church in America since its inception in 1866, Hope has long appreciated the significance of this event. And as a school that also appreciates ecumenism, Hope will commemorate this momentous 500th anniversary by looking at the Reformation with more than one event, and throughout the year, from various faith-based, historical and social viewpoints via lectures, discussions and even a musical performance. A Presidential Colloquium commences this spring with keynote speakers to complement the Danforth Lecture that will all address the Reformation’s impact. Hope faculty will engage in panel discussions this fall, offering other perspectives on the topic. As for the musical element, a participatory hymn sing is being planned as well.  Additional information will be released throughout the year about each event.

5. Up to the Grand Challenge

Relevant, complex topics will get new, curricular looks this fall, all thanks to $800,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The Mellon Grand Challenges Initiative (MGCI) is providing Hope faculty and students with opportunities to come together in true liberal arts fashion to explore “grand challenges” by crossing and connecting disciplines for Hope’s general education program as well as for collaborative summer research. Over three years, MGCI will aspire to support the development of about six projects per semester, involving two or more faculty members and developing a potential total of about 50 new linked courses.

Currently, the MGCI committee has awarded about $130,000 in internal funding to six cross-divisional projects involving a total of 15 faculty members. Entitled Disability in Contemporary Societies, Healing in Post-Conflict Societies, Immigration Stories, National Identities, Peace Movements, Storytelling and Cross-Cultural Empathy, these new classes involve nine departments and all four divisions at Hope.

Three more rounds of funding are on the docket to fund additional courses as is the creation of a summer research program for 2018.

Wish You Were Here

A semester of learning concluded with a gift of caring when two First Year Seminar (FYS) classes collaborated recently to host a dinner party for a family of 40 on behalf of their incarcerated relative. And the sentiment, “Wish you were here,” took on difficult and obvious poignancy this Christmas.

Students in Professor Tori Pelz’s FYS, Jails, Justice and the Artist’s Response, joined forces with Professor Deb Coyle’s FYS, Comfort Food, to serve as proxy hosts for Gregory, a local inmate and poet. Together, the two classes threw “Gregory’s Dinner Party,” a solemn but festive gathering which provided lessons in empathy and social-change engagement for Hope students as well as comfort and newfound pride for Gregory’s family. The event was the culminating project for Pelz’s class that explored how socially engaged art could be a vehicle for pursuing social justice, specifically in response to mass incarceration.

“Extending hospitality is an empowering act itself. It signifies privilege and freedom through personal space, mobility, and invitation, all of which Gregory does not have access to. So we became his hands and feet.”

Greg.Rememb
Members of Gregory’s family reminisce via photographs and shared memories. (Photos courtesy of Maddy McCall, Hope student)

“Too many times we see mass incarceration as an abstract issue but it’s a human one, of course,” says Pelz, assistant professor of art. “So, I wanted my students to experience how art could take the form of radical hospitality, as they created a hospitable environment by listening to and enacting the wishes of their incarcerated collaborator.

“Extending hospitality is an empowering act itself,” she continues. “It signifies privilege and freedom through personal space, mobility, and invitation, all of which Gregory does not have access to. So we became his hands and feet.”

Greg.Poem
One of Gregory’s poems artistically displayed.

“Introduced” to Gregory through Curt Tofteland, the founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars and a friend of Gregory’s, Pelz’s students spent several weeks learning more about Gregory’s story and his talents. Imprisoned for 22 years, Gregory is a “deep soul” who has taken to writing, especially poetry. “He is an incredible writer and poet,” Pelz says. “Many of his poems incorporate Shakespearian references of fate and redemption and speak to shared humanity of both tragic and comedic characters… So, we knew his writing would be an anchoring, artistic element of our project.”

Greg.CandleThough the event was Pelz’s idea, Gregory choreographed every aspect of the evening, from the menu to the décor. Her students corresponded with him during the semester to ask his wishes, learning about what he would want if he were indeed the one to be the on-site host. His poetry was the centerpiece of the evening, providing content for the students’ performances and visual displays. Students also contributed their creative gifts through harp music, singing performances, and artistic displays via placemat design and other decor. The family joined in as well, spontaneously singing gospel songs and offering toasts to Gregory.

“This is when I knew this project was successful socially-engaged art,” Pelz explained, “when the public we were collaborating with took ownership of the outcome.”

ToriandYoungGuest
Professor Tori Pelz and one of Gregory’s young relatives.

Separated by decades and significant miles, many of Gregory’s relatives struggled to regularly visit him over the years, and some of the younger relatives had yet to meet him. Time and distance can move memories into fading, and up until a week before the event, Gregory had communicated that only three family members would be attending his dinner party.

Yet, when word got out to more of his extended family, the guest list grew to 40. And on the first snowy night in Michigan this winter, several carloads of his relatives drove across the state, from Detroit to Holland, to reconnect with Gregory in absentia. As his family sat down to write him postcards that evening, the one person not physically present in the room had the strongest aura. Gregory was not there but he was, too. And that was the entire point of the evening.

As his family sat down to write him postcards that evening, the one person not physically present in the room had the strongest aura. Gregory was not there but he was, too. And that was the entire point of the evening.

GREG.FAM
Gregory’s aunt writes him a postcard.

“The dinner party – it was beautiful,” Pelz emotes. “It was a sweet mix of healing and celebration. You could sense a renewed pride for Gregory by his family. Many of them didn’t fully realize the transformation that he had undergone. They were taken aback by his poetry and the depth of his wisdom. This was an opportunity to be proud of their brother, son, nephew. Gregory is incredibly blessed to have such an army of loved ones who have not forgotten about him. It was powerful for my students to see that network, too — that for every prisoner, there is a family who also suffers and aches for their reunion.”

“We should acknowledge the mistakes made by incarcerated individuals, but we should also acknowledge all of the factors that contributed to those mistakes and honor that person’s genuine desire to change.”

Hope student Kelly Harris and one of Gregory's young relatives.
Hope student Kelly Harris and one of Gregory’s young relatives.

Course goals were met and then some for Pelz’s students. While they came to know critical factors that contribute to the current state of mass incarceration in America and how certain works of art can lead to conversations about that issue, they also gained empathic wisdom, greater compassion for the incarcerated, and memories of an evening they’ll never forget.

“I spent a lot of time in this class thinking about my own flawed assessments of forgiveness, rehabilitation, and the hidden populations in America,” freshman Leah Krudy explained. “Meeting a group of kind people made for a nice evening, but seeing a family capable of such resilience was truly powerful.

“If it had not been for the final project, I probably would read Gregory’s sentence and given up on him… I want Gregory to be a free man. I want him to experience life and put his talents to use.”

“This final project allowed me to see an example of someone who I truly want out of prison,” Krudy continued. “I want Gregory to be a free man. I want him to experience life and put his talents to use. If it had not been for the final project, I probably would read Gregory’s sentence and given up on him. Unfortunately, many people, including families, do just that when it comes to the incarcerated.”

Freshman Julia Kirby added, “We should acknowledge the mistakes made by incarcerated individuals, but we should also acknowledge all of the factors that contributed to those mistakes and honor that person’s genuine desire to change. I am going to take away from this project the truth that my humanity makes me equal to all other humans regardless of our mistakes and that even though I may only be one, small person in a sea of millions, I possess a voice and talents that can be used to create change.”

From Hate to Hope: The Art of Resilience

A sign taped to the door of the entrance to the DePree Art Gallery warns viewers that what they are about to see is disturbing and horrific. What they are about to see is simply hate-filled and hateful.

But thankfully, that’s not all it is. What the viewer is about to see as they descend into the lower-level gallery is also hope-filled and hopeful. Hate will not have the final say in this space, the viewer will find, because Dr. Heidi Kraus will not let it.

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Dr. Heidi Kraus, assistant professor of art history, director of the DePree Art Gallery, and curator of Hateful Things|Resilience, stands in front of the 19th century quilts recoded in a contemporary way by African American artist, Sanford Biggers. Photo by Steve Nelson.

From these diametric opposites then, the first exhibit in DePree has opened the academic year at Hope with a continued and much-needed discussion about race in America. Hateful Things|Resilience provides visitors the opportunity to consider our country’s regrettable past and present in regard to race relations, and to move on to an expectant future. “And there is no better time than now to do so,” notes Kraus, referencing the racial tensions that imbued the nation over the past two years from Ferguson, MO, to NFL player Colin Kaepernick, to this year’s presidential election.

Hateful Things|Resilience is really two exhibits in one space: historical artifacts from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, curated by Dr. David Pilgrim, on one-side of the gallery and on the other, a contemporary, fine art response to that memorabilia curated by Kraus. The artistic change from one side of the gallery to the other is immense as upsetting 19th and 20th century ephemera gives way to the permanency of artistic optimism and a call for change.

After seeing artifacts from the Jim Crow Museum two years ago, Kraus, profoundly upset but educationally minded, “knew it was important that there be a contemporary fine arts response to hateful things,” she says. In knowing about a heart-breaking past as well as her own current privilege, Kraus had to respond — needed to respond — in an artful way. With an art historian’s skill set and an educational gallery at her disposal, Kraus worked to secure just the right resilient artworks by African American artists from Hope’s permanent collection to combat Hateful Things from FSU. She also was able to secure two quilts by Sanford Biggers, courtesy of Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. The curator won a huge coup for the exhibit.

“Artists look to the past to inform their work today. Every artist who created these works in Resilience is very well aware of what exists in the other space, in the Hateful Things space,” she says, gesturing past the physically and metaphorically broken partition that divides the gallery. “But they’ve gone beyond that. It’s informed who they are, and they show that hateful things do not have the last word.”

Biggers is a highly renowned interdisciplinary African American artist, and his works in DePree show the defiance of the Underground Railroad via the resilience of contemporary art today. Given to Biggers by descendants of slaves, his quilts were once used as a coded language. Slaves seeking freedom would know if a home was a safe space to stay depending on a quilt’s color and pattern, and in the way in which it was folded on a clothesline.

“And Sanford Biggers recoded those quilts by adding a layer on top of his own,” explains Kraus. “He is directly responding to the original historical context of these items, but he has done so in a deliberately contemporary way by his choice of material and subject matter.

“Artists look to the past to inform their work today. Every artist who created these works in Resilience is very well aware of what exists in the other space, in the Hateful Things space,” she says, gesturing past the physically and metaphorically broken partition that divides the gallery. “But they’ve gone beyond that. It’s informed who they are, and they show that hateful things do not have the last word.”

Kraus is quick to credit other Hope faculty who made Hateful Things|Resilience a team effort and collaborated with her in order to get the full message across with clarity as well as discomfort. Vanessa Greene, director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Lorna Jarvis Hernandez and Dr. Chuck Green from the psychology department, Dr. Dr. Jeanne Petit from the history department, and Dr. Deidre Johnston from the communication department all “walked alongside me in this, and I didn’t want to do them wrong. I wanted to be sure I had my ducks in a row and if we were going to do this at this school, we were going to do it right.”

‘Dr. Kraus, do you know why this means so much?… You are not just focusing on the downtrodden history of the African American but you are also focusing on their resilience.’ Thus the exhibition title.”

So far, the feedback has been nothing but positive. It’s a good reminder to Kraus that the difficult message she envisioned two years ago and worked to teach today was not meant to remain in her own mind and heart but rather it was meant to impact others. Especially Hope students.

“I had a lunch date with Curissa Sutherland-Smith, a junior psych major who is the president of the Black Student Union and just a beautiful soul,” remembers Kraus. “I was telling her how I was struggling with my privilege while putting this exhibit together and she stopped me and asked, ‘Dr. Kraus, do you know why this means so much?… You are not just focusing on the downtrodden history of the African American but you are also focusing on their resilience.’ Thus the exhibition title. She gave that to me, and so much more.”

From the mind and heart of a Hope student to the mind, heart and hands of a Hope professor, the necessary lessons to be learned by Hateful Things|Resilience will remain on display in the DePree Art Gallery until Friday, October 7.

One Artist, One Faculty, One Question

Numerous professional visiting artists come to campus each academic year to both display their creative talents and impart their expressive wisdom to the Hope community. They show and tell us, by virtue of their displayed talents and spoken wisdom, that the arts are important to our collective communities because they require response and engagement, making us more mindful and inspired; making us more human.

Four of those visiting artists sat down separately with a Hope faculty member to answer how the arts contribute to the public good. It is a question whose answer is necessary toward a better understanding of what makes the arts important in our lives and world.

In this third installment of One Question, Director of Theatre Michelle Bombe sits down with American playwright Nathan Allen who is also the artistic director of the House Theatre of Chicago. Allen co-wrote “The Sparrow,” a play performed at the college during the fall of 2015, for which Allen returned to campus to direct. The play, “Rose and the Rime,” was written and created and directed by Allen too, in 2006-07, in a collaborative effort with the Hope cast and design team. That Hope production earned the prestigious honor of being selected to be performed during the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (ACTF) National Festival in Washington, D.C., in April, 2008.