Breaks Away: Deborah Van Duinen

sabbatical (n): a break from customary work to acquire new skills or knowledge, traditionally occurring every seventh year

Breaks Away: Sabbatical Stories of Hope
Each academic year, a number of Hope faculty take sabbatical leaves away from the college, submersing themselves for extended periods of time into their favored fields of inquiry. If viewed from above and all together, those fields would look like a calico landscape, so varied and colorful is the topography of their collective research, writing, and creative pursuits. Offering restoration and adventure both, sabbaticals are a bit like information and imagination transfusions. These breaks away from normal classroom and committee work give Hope academicians a boost to reinforce and revitalize their teaching and scholarship.

Any endeavor that goes from big to bigger requires effort, vision and good old-fashioned gumption. So when Dr. Deb Van Duinen decided to take the highly successful Hope-Holland Big Read of 2014 and create the Bigger Read of 2015, she was fortunate to have a sabbatical leave to focus her efforts and vision, but especially her trademark gumption, on the next version of bringing a community together through one book.

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Dr. Deborah VanDuinen, assistant professor of education and Towsley Research Scholar, is the program director of Hope and Holland’s next Big Read.

The Big Read is a program created by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) “to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.” Through the careful planning of program directors like Dr. Van Duinen, it provides opportunities for citizens to read and educators to lead as stories are told, meanings are found, and communities collectively react to both. With a lover of books, a specialist in adolescent literacy and English education, and a positive, energetic person like Dr. Van Duinen in charge, reading can’t help but be anything but big.

Harper Lee’s long-beloved and critically acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird was the selection for Hope and Holland’s first Big Read in 2014, for which Dr. Van Duinen secured an NEA grant. The month-long event was so well-received (more than 3,000 Hollanders and Hope-ites participated) and the book so thoughtfully and thoroughly considered that an encore was requested. The Hope education professor determined to orchestrate another Big Read, affectionately renaming it “The Bigger Read,” with the help of a second NEA grant. This fall, Hope faculty, staff and students, along with Holland residents, will wrestle with The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien’s weighty and award-winning book about soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Dr. Van Duinen admits that, at first, the selection of The Things They Carried made her and her Big Read committee a little nervous due to the subject matter (war) and volatile time period (the moody 1960s) of the book. But this collaborative professor heard the feedback calling for variety and selected an NEA-approved book with a dissimilar feel from last year’s familiar read. She was not about to shy away from “an opportunity to let people’s stories come through” as they read the book. “In fact,” she says, “I’m honored to be able to play a part in helping people get shaped by story.” She adds, “People were willing to listen and learn from each other’s stories last year. I have no doubt that despite the different topic and themes in The Things They Carried, this year will be the same.”

“The nature of storytelling allows us to think of our own stories too. What are the stories in our own lives? How do we refine the past? How do we tell stories to save our souls?” Dr. Van Duinen ponders. “These are questions books ask us.”

Launched this past Monday by Dr. Fred Johnson, a former Marine and current associate professor of history at Hope, with his presentation, “The Legacy of Their Burdens,” the Big Read, and thus O’Brien’s stories, will engage 15 high school teachers and their students from 10 area schools. At Hope, the book has created space for introspection and new knowledge in courses like Senior Seminar, English 113, First Year Seminar, Creative Writing and even a Latin class. And while schools are great places to talk about books, so are coffee shops, art galleries, churches, bookstores and breweries. Several of these locations around Holland will host 15 different book groups for the Big Read for the next three weeks. And of course, there is a long list of corollary events scheduled too.

Perhaps the biggest coup of all, though, for the Big Read will be a presentation by the author himself. O’Brien — whose appearance was secured by Dr. Van Duinen and the Big Read committee in partnership with the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series and Herrick Public Library — will give a keynote address on Thursday, November 19, at 7:00 pm at Evergreen Commons. Though his book is certainly about war and loss, it is about love and honor and memory too.

“The nature of storytelling (in books) allows us to think of our own stories too. What are the stories in our own lives? How do we refine the past? How do we tell stories to save our souls?” Dr. Van Duinen ponders. “These are questions books ask us.”

As if going from big to bigger wasn’t enough while on sabbatical, Dr. Van Duinen also published two peer-reviewed articles from her Big Read research, submitted three other manuscripts for publication, earned a grant from the Christian Scholars Foundation to study spirituality in young adult literature, and started a mother-son book club, a sentimental and scholarly project because it is where “my life as a mom overlaps with my research.”

The mothers and sons under Dr. Van Duinen literacy leadership recently finished another American classic and Big Read approved-book, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. But of course, why wouldn’t they? Little boys can read big too.

Dr. Deborah VanDuinen is an assistant professor of education and Towsley Research Scholar in the Department of Education at Hope College.

Breaks Away: Vicki TenHaken

sabbatical (n): a break from customary work to acquire new skills or knowledge, traditionally occurring every seventh year

Breaks Away: Sabbatical Stories of Hope
Each academic year, a number of Hope faculty take sabbatical leaves away from the college, submersing themselves for extended periods of time into their favored fields of inquiry. If viewed from above and all together, those fields would look like a calico landscape, so varied and colorful is the topography of their collective research, writing, and creative pursuits. Offering restoration and adventure both, sabbaticals are a bit like information and imagination transfusions. These breaks away from normal classroom and committee work give Hope academicians a boost to reinforce and revitalize their teaching and scholarship.

What is the best indicator of excellence in business? Sales figures? Consumer satisfaction? Innovation? Those are all good measures of successful business performance, to be sure. The one marker that includes them all, though, the one that ultimately decides if a company has good sales figures, consumer satisfaction and innovation is… survival.

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Vicki TenHaken, professor of management

Corporate longevity captivates Vicki TenHaken, professor of management, who spent much of her sabbatical writing a book about why America’s 100-plus year-old companies have endured wars, recessions, a Great Depression and an ever-fickle U.S. marketplace. It’s a favored topic of inquiry that she can trace back to two sources: her first career and 25 years spent in corporate leadership at two companies — General Electric and Herman Miller — that have withstood the balanced-book test of time, and her introduction to Makoto Kanda of Meiji Gakuin University who conducts research on the same topic in Japan.

TenHaken learned of Kanda’s work while leading a Hope College May Term at MGU in 2004. She was so intrigued that, a year later, she wrote and was awarded a GLCA grant to further study his surveying, qualitative methodology in learning how over 20,000 shinishe — meaning old, traditional, valued companies in Japanese — have kept their doors open for so long. What she has found about 1,000, long-term U.S. companies after over five years of data collection — culminating with that book she wrote entitled Lessons from Century Club Companies: Managing for Long-Term Success to be published in 2016 — is mostly congruent with what Kanda has found about Japanese ones, except in one way: Old Japanese companies have a specific development plan in place for their next CEOs. This is not often the case for American companies.

“Sometimes relationship building may have no immediate economic benefit but the (enduring) companies continue to prioritize it because they just know it is the right thing to do.” — Vicki TenHaken

Still, enduring corporate success — whether in Japan or the United States — has five common behaviors at its bottom-line, and three of them have to do with relationships. TenHaken’s blog, How Old Companies Survive, tell of those practices in detail. She says the good news is that the super majority of enduring enterprises strongly believe these practices have led to their longevity. The bad news is that those strong beliefs are typically not taught in MBA programs. But good news again: TenHaken teaches about those practices in her management seminar for majors at Hope.

“Relationship-building is a high priority for older companies and they are interlocking in nature, between employees, customers, suppliers, the community in which they (the companies) live,” says TenHaken. “Sometimes relationship-building may have no immediate economic benefit but the (enduring) companies continue to prioritize it because they just know it is the right thing to do.”

Additionally, TenHaken found a correlation between long-term corporate success and managing for environmental sustainability. On Corporate Knight’s list of most environmentally responsible firms, 40 percent of the U.S. companies were over 100 years old. TenHaken isn’t sure yet if their motivation flows from an overall stewardship mentality, “or, it could be that they are just generally frugal,” she says.

That is a topic for another study, next up on her research agenda. Like the century-old companies she researches, TenHaken plans to continue to add to the broader conversation of how to succeed in business while really trying.

Vicki TenHaken is a professor of management in the Department of Economics, Management, and Accounting and the Ruch Director of the Baker Scholar Program at Hope College.

Breaks Away: Linda Dykstra

sabbatical (n): a break from customary work to acquire new skills or knowledge, traditionally occurring every seventh year

Breaks Away: Sabbatical Stories of Hope
Each academic year, a number of Hope faculty take sabbatical leaves away from the college, submersing themselves for extended periods of time into their favored fields of inquiry. If viewed from above and all together, those fields would look like a calico landscape, so varied and colorful is the topography of their collective research, writing, and creative pursuits. Offering restoration and adventure both, sabbaticals are a bit like information and imagination transfusions. These breaks away from normal classroom and committee work give Hope academicians a boost to reinforce and revitalize their teaching and scholarship.

If not for her grandmother, Linda Dykstra, associate professor of music specializing in voice, may have never considered vocology as a field of inquiry in her academic life and thus for her sabbatical leaves from Hope in 2007 and 2015.

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Linda Dykstra and SonoVu. The sound waves on the monitor depict good vibrato. “We want it to look like lasagna noodles,” Dykstra explains. “This is a good sign of the absence of tension (in a singer’s voice).”

Though she had no way of knowing it as a child, Dykstra would eventually become fascinated with vocology — the science and practice of voice habilitation  — in part due to her grandmother, whose voice was sacrificed as the result of an emergency tracheotomy performed by a country doctor at the site of an automobile accident in the 1930s. Her grandmother lived with a throat stoma for the rest of her life, and Dykstra’s compassion toward her grandma led to her curiosity about vocal folds (“They’re really not cords,” Dykstra clarifies) and how they work… and don’t work when mistreated by overuse or disease or disorder.

Because when one knows how something works, that’s when one knows how it can be fixed.

So Dykstra — a lyric soprano classically trained — spent much of her sabbatical “looking down throats at the office of ENT specialist Dr. Richard Strabbing (of Holland, Michigan), observing vocal disorders that resulted from laryngeal, tongue and thyroid cancers, vocal fold paralysis, and other considerably more benign disorders,” she says, in order to better understand the anatomy and function of these body parts essential to her teaching and voice therapy professions. This knowledge will help her better prescribe vocal singing techniques and therapies for Hope voice students who might, say, strain their voices over the summer as camp counselors or as Pull participants, both scenarios that she has worked with in the past.

Vocal fold knowledge will help Linda Dykstra better prescribe vocal singing techniques and therapies for Hope voice students who might, say, strain their voices over the summer as camp counselors or as Pull participants, both scenarios that she has worked with in the past.

“After the vocal folds sustain injury, and sometimes post-surgery, I provide habilitation techniques that can release muscle tension, aid in healing, and improve capacities to use the voice correctly,” says Dykstra whose post-graduate work in vocology has been cooperatively and collaboratively attained at the Keidar Voice Institute in New York City and the Bastian Voice Institute of Downers Grove, Illinois.

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Junior Elise Riddle, a dance major from Valparaiso, Indiana, watches her sound and technique using SonoVu.

Also on her last two breaks away from the college, Dykstra invented and then “preached the gospel of SonoVu,” an audio-visual technology she pioneered (and for which she has a provisional patent) with the help from a Hope ACAT (Academic Computing Advisory Team) grant in 2006. SonoVu links video with an already-invented audio display software called VoceVista. Dykstra put the two mediums together in order to teach voice students both visually and aurally since SonoVu allows them to see acoustic feedback, mouth formation and posture all at the same time. Dykstra records the two outputs through SonoVu and then hands her voice students DVDs of their visual and audio selves for corrective or affirmative reference.

“Before SonoVu, I could not even program our VCR,” Dykstra laughs. “Now I’m working with other institutions to bring SonoVu to their voice studios.”

Working daily with her invention in her homey office inside the new Jack H. Miller Center for the Musical Arts, Dykstra always has plenty of company. Voice students not only fill her office most of the day for lessons, but she is also surrounded by numerous neatly-hung, black-and-white head shots of Hope graduates whom she has taught over the years and who now perform professionally across the country. Due to the flexible time sabbaticals provide, Dykstra took the opportunity to see two of those accomplished professionals perform in full color off-Broadway in New York City and in a Puccini opera in Des Moines, Iowa. Watching each perform on stage was a culminating joy, and it made Dykstra’s heart do what it knows best — sing.

Linda Dykstra is an associate professor of music in the Hope College Music Department.

Talking back to Hope Theatre

“The Christians,” the recently staged production by the Hope College Theatre Department, is a play full of questions but few answers. Seems right when delving into themes of faith and doubt. Seems right for good drama, too.

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Richard Perez, assistant professor of theatre and director of “The Christians”

Yet too many questions with not enough answers can be unsettling. So, Richard Perez, the play’s director and an assistant professor of theatre, employed the use of “talkbacks” at the conclusion of each of the play’s six performances to help theatergoers navigate and give voice to the tricky topics of love and fear, belief and uncertainty.

Unlike a panel discussion, Perez’s talkbacks did just what the name implies: they offered audience members the chance to ask their own questions to diverse, three- to four-person panels made up of 20 different Hope professors and administrators, as well as pastors from the Holland community, each night. Even Hope President John Knapp took part. The post-production discussions provided opportunities for open dialogue and furthered conversations about thematic aspects of the play. In doing so, viewers of Hope’s production of “The Christians” were ultimately seeking input and insight about questions important to their own faith lives. This kind of engagement on matters of faith is a hallmark of a Hope College education.

“’I’m so glad they did that (offered talkbacks),” said Hope freshman Michael Macks, who attended on opening night. “It gave me a chance to hear what other people thought about some of the questions I had, such as, do some people believe a certain way because their parents do? When does faith become our own?”

The post-production discussions provided opportunities for open dialogue and furthered conversations about thematic aspects of the play. In doing so, viewers of Hope’s production of “The Christian” were ultimately seeking input and insight about questions important to their own faith lives. This kind of engagement on matters of faith is a hallmark of a Hope College education.

“I have been so pleased with how well this play was received,” says Perez. “I heard many people talking about their impressions and questions as they were walking out of the (DeWitt) theater. One of our intro theatre classes spent an entire class period on it even though that is not what the professor had originally planned. I could not have asked for anything more than that.”

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Hope College’s production of “The Christians,” the play’s collegiate premiere.

A fast ride with five actors, a nine-person choir and no intermission, the play is also currently being staged off Broadway to excellent reviews. Hope College gave “The Christians” its collegiate premiere and was even mentioned in a New York Times article about the playwright, Lucas Hnath.

Lights, camera… faculty

KenBrownOnCameraHad you walked into Dr. Ken Brown’s lab early yesterday morning, you would have been witness to this scene: Dr. Brown on camera, enthusiastically sharing his experience as an A. Paul Schaap Research Fellow.

It is always great to hear our faculty express such passion for their work (whether they’re on camera or not!). Every day, that work includes scholarly engagement and one-on-one collaborative research with students.

Recently featured on Hope’s homepage was a story about Dr. Brown, professor of chemistry. After reading it, you’ll understand the depth of collaborative interaction between Hope faculty and their students. You’ll also understand why, to Dr. Brown, it was important that “he never had to choose between research and teaching.”

In the story, Dr. Brown reflects on the instruments in his lab. “The equipment that we have is very impressive, even when you compare it to major research institutions,” he says. “But when you consider small schools like Hope, the amount of research that goes on and the equipment that we have far exceeds other schools, which makes student hands-on training even more feasible.”

As critical as they are to scholarship, sophisticated lab instruments do not singularly define Hope College as a community of scholars. And, well-equipped academic facilities alone have not made Hope a recognized leader in undergraduate research. At the heart of our students’ academic experience are the people — including dedicated professors like Dr. Brown.

Breaks Away: Tom Bultman

sabbatical (n): a break from customary work to acquire new skills or knowledge, traditionally occurring every seventh year

Breaks Away: Sabbatical Stories of Hope
Each academic year, a number of Hope faculty take sabbatical leaves away from the college, submersing themselves for extended periods of time into their favored fields of inquiry. If viewed from above and all together, those fields would look like a calico landscape, so varied and colorful is the topography of their collective research, writing, and creative pursuits. Offering restoration and adventure both, sabbaticals are a bit like information and imagination transfusions. These breaks away from normal classroom and committee work give Hope academicians a boost to reinforce and revitalize their teaching and scholarship.

Sheep in New Zealand have a friend in Dr. Tom Bultman. And Dr. Bultman, professor of biology, was happy to oblige the massive, wooly industry that is valuable in a country where sheep outnumber humans by about 10-to-1.

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Dr. Tom Bultman, professor of biology at Hope College

Funded by a National Science Foundation grant and headquartered at AgResearch just outside of Christchurch, Dr. Bultman spent three months in the spring of 2015 investigating the growth and effects of endophytic fungus inside perennial ryegrass, the mainly foraged food source found in New Zealand paddocks. His research findings may eventually ensure that New Zealand’s ovine population (and America’s too) can eat their meals toxin-free.

“Endophytic fungus can produce chemicals in the grasses that can be toxic,” explains Dr. Bultman, who collaborated with six other New Zealand scientists, as well as Hope graduate Kelly Krueger ’14, on the project. “So it makes sense that ridding the grasses of those fungi and possible toxins is important to farmers in New Zealand and the U.S. because the effects of the fungi are pronounced in these two part of the world.”

Dr. Bultman and associates also looked at the alkaloid levels — the presences of nitrogenous compounds — in damaged grass and the insect impact on that grass as well. In other words, when ryegrass is walked on by sheep hooves or torn by the sheep’s teeth, what alkaloid, if any, would be produced and how would insects respond to it?

“We found that one variety of fungus actually produced reduced alkaloids in damaged grass, probably due to the sheep’s saliva,” Dr. Bultman says.

So in layman’s terms, sheep spit is actually a good thing.

“I’m a pretty simple guy, I admit,” he replies when asked what he appreciated most about his break away, “so sabbaticals are the chance to simplify, to focus on one thing for a big block of time. This research is new and novel, and I can’t wait to write it up.”

With most of his findings in hand, Dr. Bultman will now begin to author his work for publication in scholarly journals such as PLOS Biology. In fact, he’s anxious to do so.

“I’m a pretty simple guy, I admit,” he replies when asked what he appreciated most about his break away, “so sabbaticals are the chance to simplify, to focus on one thing for a big block of time. This research is new and novel, and I can’t wait to write it up.”

Dr. Tom Bultman is a professor in the Biology Department at Hope College.

Breaks Away: Billy Mayer

sabbatical (n): a break from customary work to acquire new skills or knowledge, traditionally occurring every seventh year

Breaks Away: Sabbatical Stories of Hope
Each academic year, a number of Hope faculty take sabbatical leaves away from the college, submersing themselves for extended periods of time into their favored fields of inquiry. If viewed from above and all together, those fields would look like a calico landscape, so varied and colorful is the topography of their collective research, writing, and creative pursuits. Offering restoration and adventure both, sabbaticals are a bit like information and imagination transfusions. These breaks away from normal classroom and committee work give Hope academicians a boost to reinforce and revitalize their teaching and scholarship.

In foam and clay and metal, from memory and history and spontaneity, the new artworks created by Hope art professor and sculptor Billy Mayer can be best described as pieces of funereal whimsy. Come January 2016, when his one-man show, “440,” opens in the DePree Art Gallery, it will be easy to see why.

Two Billy Mayers in his DePree Art Center studio
Professor Billy Mayer in his DePree Art Center studio with a sculpture for his upcoming  one-man exhibition (and a black-white photo behind him of young Billy)

During his sabbatical leave to San Marcos, Texas, on the campus of Texas State University – where his wife, Michel Conroy, is also a professor of art – Mayer went to work to “riff on” subjects mostly from his youth. His love of rock-and-roll, fascination with the early NASA lunar missions and pull to Michigan’s automotive history are topics for his sculpture, broached in lightness but with somber undertones.

“I believe I agree with (former Hope colleague) Pinckney Benedict who said much of his creative work, and my creative work too, conveys memories and feelings from the first 10 years of life,” Mayer explains. “It was a time when few filters – either from self or society – were imposed on us. We played non-judgmentally. We were untainted sponges. John Glenn was as important to me then as was my guitar. And that has stayed beautifully lodged in my brain.”

And now into clay and other media, too. Those memories and their resulting emotions will be on display in his art exhibition entitled “440,” chosen by Mayer as a nod to his 440 ceramic, mini-skulls with various, odd objects attached  (200 new and 240 from other Mayer shows) as well as the short-wave frequency to which all music is tuned.

One of the works in his new show conjures up surrealist Rene Magritte’s “Time Transfixed” and displays Mayer’s playful focus on music and youth. With a carved wooden train emerging from the glittery weave of a sculpted foam guitar amplifier, the piece harkens back to Mayer’s teen years and his love of model trains, and that guitar again, while also pointing to his sense of present place. He is neighborly, after all, with trains running the tracks just outside his DePree Center studio.

“Clay is like a child. You can’t walk away from it for too long. It moves; it cracks. You have to constantly tend to it.” — Billy Mayer

Other artwork – like “The Second Assassination of Chief Pontiac” and “Revelation 9:17” – unveil an artist who creates in ways that simultaneously display the mutability of language and the malleability of clay. Through word and material play, Mayer’s eloquence reveals itself, for in “440,” the gallery-goer will find sculpted works that “riff” some more and speak to ISIS, John Boehner and medical marijuana as well.

Revelation 9:17 by Billy Mayer
Revelation 9:17 by Billy Mayer

“The English language is organic,” Mayer says. “I love etymology and how one word can morph into multiple meanings, one phrase can mean much… As for clay, it is like a child. You can’t walk away from it for too long. It moves; it cracks. You have to constantly tend to it.”

While in Texas, Mayer also visited Marfa, a west Texas desert town noted for its unique art filling fields and streets and home to the Donald Judd Foundation. Trips to the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts in Providence, Rhode Island, and museums and galleries in Washington, DC, were all part of his itinerary and provided space for refreshment and inspiration.

“What I appreciate most about sabbaticals is the ability to focus on my own work uninterrupted,” Mayer concludes.

Because when he does, it turns out he has a lot to do and say. Well, at least in 440 ways.

Billy Mayer is a professor in the  Art and Art History Department at Hope College.

Breaks Away: Renata Fernandez

sabbatical (n): a break from customary work to acquire new skills or knowledge, traditionally occurring every seventh year

Breaks Away: Sabbatical Stories of Hope
Each academic year, a number of Hope faculty take sabbatical leaves away from the college, submersing themselves for extended periods of time into their favored fields of inquiry. If viewed from above and all together, those fields would look like a calico landscape, so varied and colorful is the topography of their collective research, writing, and creative pursuits. Offering restoration and adventure both, sabbaticals are a bit like information and imagination transfusions. These breaks away from normal classroom and committee work give Hope academicians a boost to reinforce and revitalize their teaching and scholarship.

Fernandez
Dr. Renata Fernandez, Associate Professor of Spanish at Hope

Dr. Renata Fernandez’s return to her native country for sabbatical last spring had more to do with churchgoing than homecoming. For it was on the walls of numerous Catholic churches and former convents and monasteries in Mexico that Dr. Fernandez focused much of her research into the “camouflaged culture of resistance” rendered by indigenous artisans in the mid-1500s.

“I am captivated by the first generation of colonial evangelism in Mexico. So I had to go back to dig into the material culture there,” explains Dr. Fernandez, who is originally from Veracruz and travelled to more than 10 rural towns in five different Mexican states for her research.

What she discovered were the muted underpinnings of early native resistance. In those many Dominican, Franciscan and Augustinian churches and convents she visited, tucked in murals or hiding in plain sight in sculptures, are symbols that subtly defy the friars’ artistic and evangelistic orders. Instructed to duplicate European patterns and designs from books brought by the Spaniards, the local artists complied, but only to a point. Instead, they shrewdly incorporated local animals, plants, and deities alongside Renaissance decorative motifs.

“These artists were saying, ‘This is my sacred space as much as it is yours. Yes, I will praise your God, but in reality, I’ll retain my own too. We will remember our history even though you want us to forget it.’” — Dr. Renata Fernandez

These works of art depict then the tension that resulted from a clash of cultures, especially one that had been aggressively overtaken. The cleverly appropriated art was not an overt, orchestrated rebellion, but it was the beginning of clever opposition that would eventually lead to one.

Dr. Fernandez explains that “these artists were saying, ‘This is my sacred space as much as it is yours. Yes, I will praise your God, but in reality, I’ll retain my own too. We will remember our history even though you want us to forget it.’”

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Murals of Malinalco: Cacti amongst Renaissance motifs

Interestingly, Dr. Fernandez also found that the use of covert indigenous symbols were especially prominent in Augustinian structures. Another question she’s asking then, and will further research to find the answer, is “Were the Augustinian monks oblivious to what was happening on their walls, or did they allow the native renderings to make evangelization easier?”

“I’m also wondering, is there a pattern? Does this kind of resistance happen in other Spanish territories, such as Peru?”

So, Dr. Fernandez has more work to do but she has a voluminous start. For now, she will use many of her new findings in her upper-level Spanish course on Colonial Latin American literature and culture at Hope. She also plans to write a text for “there is currently not one book that teaches what I want to teach.” She hopes to fill this textbook void by unapologetically taking on the domination discourse of Mexican conquest and unveiling a sophisticated pre-colonial society determined to retain and never forget its cultural and symbolic origins. Like the frescoes and sculptures that soared before her in Mexico, she has a story to tell. And this time it won’t be that subtle.

Dr. Renata Fernadez is an associate professor of Spanish in the Modern and Classical Languages Department at Hope College.

Hope Shares Talent at ArtPrize

Four Hope College faculty and staff members — two musicians, a dancer, and a Lego artist — plus numerous Hope student viewers, some of whom attend as part of their social work course, will be among the many participating in ArtPrize, the “radically open, independently organized, international art competition” held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, annually.

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Dr. Charles Cusack’s entry: Latin Squared Square. Photo credit: Steve Nelson, Hope College Art and Art History Department

ArtPrize opened its 2015 collection of more than 1,500 works yesterday. Now in its seventh year, the competition offers its artists and viewers an unconventional and intriguing way to discuss what art is and why it matters. The highly communal artworks, which are voted on by judges and the public alike, will remain on display throughout the downtown Grand Rapids area until Sunday, Oct. 11.

Dr. Charles Cusack, associate professor of computer science, has been a Lego enthusiast since he was a young boy. Now he’s putting that enthusiasm on display with Latin Squared Square, a 38” x 38” piece of two different types of combinatorial objects constructed with Legos. Located in the B.O.B, Cusack’s work is a simple, perfect square that has been squared. A Latin square is a grid in which every cell is a certain color (or shape or number) and every row and every column contains each color exactly once (like Sudoku). Cusack says the work took him over a year-and-a-half to conceive and create as he wrote computer algorithms to achieve his desired Latin square effect and spent much time shopping online to track down the Lego pieces he needed. “It’s harder to find pieces of specific Lego than you would think,” says Cusack, who admits he never thought of himself as an artist but has toyed with the idea of an ArtPrize submission for years. “Lego has to be one of the most expensive mediums, too,” he says, especially when those pieces are carefully and colorfully selected and arranged in a specialized, mathematical way.

Professor Angie Yetzke, assistant professor of dance, and Bruce Benedict, chaplain of worship music in Campus Ministries, along with Pj Maske of Urban Garden Performing Arts, are uniting their talents to present a collaborative production entitled “The Blind Ambition of Miss Columbia.” The piece is a hybrid work of movement-based theatre and live music. “The Blind Ambition of Miss Columbia” is a critique of the historical American notion of Manifest Destiny, which asks “questions about collective cultural identity and memory,” explains Maske. “When popular art and culture blindly romanticize the past, how do we own the truth of a (troubling) history?” It will be performed at the Amway Grand Plaza‘s outdoor patio on the northwest corner, on Saturday, Sept 26 and Saturday, Oct. 3 at 1:30, 2:00, 3:00 and 3:30 pm.

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Stephen Talaga, adjunct assistant professor of music, has entered “New Hope” in 2015 ArtPrize. Photo credit: Juan Daniel Castro

Professor Stephen Talaga, adjunct assistant professor of music, has entered an electronic keyboard improvisation piece in ArtPrize. “New Hope” was first commissioned by Julia Randel of the Hope College Music Department for the opening of the new Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts on campus this fall. Talaga says he created the celebratory work “on my home computer by layering successive tracks until I ended up with a result I liked.” Randel likes it too. “What I especially enjoy about the piece is that it evokes so many different sounds and styles, so it suggests the broad range of what we do in the music department,” she explains. “Being an electronic piece, it has ‘newness,’ but it also connects with multiple traditions coming together in our building.” The eight-minute piece is accessible to listen to through the ArtPrize website and via listening stations at St. Cecilia Music Center.

Students in Dr. Deb Sturtevant’s Social Interventions III class attend ArtPrize as a vital component of their coursework. In the gallery that is three-square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, senior-level social work students witness how art can revitalize organizations and communities, especially in lower-income neighborhoods. Sturtevant, professor of social work, has used ArtPrize since its inception as a vehicle to convey that the macro-practices of social work are “not just about soup kitchens.” Her students attend ArtPrize each year to see how art, especially in the Heartside Ministries and Avenue of the Arts neighborhoods of Grand Rapids, is created and viewed by those who might be homeless, for instance. “Some of my students go back to ArtPrize repeatedly,” she says. “Many are especially drawn to art with a strong social message.” Her students must talk with the artists and viewers as well as simply observe. And while paper-writing and vote-casting are required, Sturtevant’s students come away from ArtPrize with an even greater realization that art provides value to communities beyond its beauty on a wall or in a park. They find art and ArtPrize informs and transforms artists and observers, neighborhoods and friends.

“Some of my students go back to ArtPrize repeatedly. Many are especially drawn to art with a strong social message.” — Dr. Deb Sturtevant

If you’re heading to ArtPrize over the next few weeks, be sure to check out the entries created by members of the Hope community!

Kruizenga Art Museum: A Tool for Teaching

The Kruizenga Art Museum at night

If you’ve noticed a little electricity in the air on campus lately, it may be the excitement around the opening of Hope’s Kruizenga Art Museum. Our new museum enhances the role of the college’s permanent collection as a teaching tool. Designed by architect and Hope alumnus Matthew Vander Borgh ’84 of C Concept Design, the building provides space and resources to conduct scholarship using artwork from around the world.

The latest issue of News from Hope College included the article “Global Scope, Lasting Impact,” which describes the academic mission of the the Kruizenga Art Museum.

From the article:

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Vase with Eight Daoist Immortals; Chinese, 19th century; porcelain, enamels; Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton

[Margaret Feldmann Kruizenga Curator of the Kruizenga Art Museum Charles] Mason is eager to see the museum connect with departments in every academic division — not only the arts, but also the humanities, natural and applied sciences, and social sciences — to find ways that the objects, their history and their context can enrich the experience of students campus-wide. One themed exhibition, for example, might include a concert featuring music from the tradition represented. Another might compare and contrast Tibetan and European monastic traditions.

“Our goal for the first year is to show the breadth and overall quality of the collection, to give people a sense of the range of material that we have in the collection and how it could potentially be used to support a wide range of academic disciplines,” Mason said. “So it’s to some extent going to be a kind of ‘greatest hits’ of the Permanent Collection, but with an eye toward having pieces out that we can use to begin conversations with faculty and students from different academic departments across campus about ways that we could integrate the museum into teaching and learning.

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Abuna Gebre Manfes Qeddus; Gabra Sellase Abadi Walda Maryam (Ethiopian, ?-early 1980s), c. 1971-72; paper (cardboard), pigment, ribbon, thread; Gift of Neal Sobania ’68

Though it was created with students and scholars in mind, the museum is open to all. Come visit! In the meantime, check out this recent media coverage about the Kruizenga Art Museum:

Museum director Charles Mason talks about the new Kruizenga Art Museum at Hope College (mLive.com, Aug. 31, 2015)

Art seldom seen opens at Hope College’s Kruizenga Art Museum (mLive.com, Sept. 11, 2015)

See how Hope College’s new, $5M art museum makes a statement (mLive.com, Sept. 7, 2015)

So you want to start a college art museum… (Hyperallergic.com, Sept. 10, 2015)

Project Gallery: Kruizenga Art Museum (Architect Magazine, Sept. 15, 2015 )