Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

The Mellema Program: Public Events

Image credit: Edward Curtis, Canon de Chelly-Navaho, Volume 1 - 1907, photogravure

2015-16 Events

Wednesday, January 20
12:30 PM, Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium
January Series Lecture

Jere L. Krakow
"National Parks: America's Greatest Treasure"

Jere Krakow recently completed a public service career with the National Park Service and previously was a college professor in American history.  Krakow served as superintendent of nine National Historic Trails, including the Oregon, Santa Fe, Pony Express, and Trail of Tears National Historic Trails. He has a long-standing goal of connecting the historic sites of the nation with students and   citizens alike. Krakow is a fellowship recipient from the National Endowment for the Humanities and holder of awards from several historic trail friend groups.  He is a member of the Western History Association and a consultant on the administration of historic trails, commemorative events, and the activities associated with them. Currently serving as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, Krakow’s presentation will help us celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Learn more about Jerek Krakow and listen to the lecture here.

Underwritten by: The Mellema Program in Western American Studies and the Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning


Monday, October 5, 2015
5:00 PM, Hoogenboom Center 280

Rev. Dr. Bruce D. Baker (Seattle Pacific University)
"Silicon Valley and the Spirit of Innovation: Theological Refractions on the History of California's Culture of Technological Entrepreneurship"

Silicon Valley, the world-renown birthplace of technology start-up companies, stands alone as the quintessential image of entrepreneurial spirit. Why did this agriculturally gifted valley give birth to so many world-class technology companies—Hewlett-Packard, Intel, AMD, Sun Microsystems, Apple, Cisco and Google, to name but a few—and how did it become the world’s most admired cultural landmark of entrepreneurial spirit?

In this lecture, Dr. Baker will trace the history of the Valley’s high-tech pioneers, and draw lessons from the founders of these world-leading companies. His method is to “exegete the culture” with an eye toward theological implications for business and society. This exploration shows how biblical motifs help explain the innovative ethos and spirit of entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley. Through this biblical lens, we gain insight into the business climate which has produced such phenomenal entrepreneurial success. Dr. Baker’s research into the social, cultural, and moral conditions which have contributed to the ethos of Silicon Valley offers practical wisdom for the cultivation of productive and soul-enriching work in business in general.

Co-sponsored by the Mellema Program and the Calvin Center for Innovation in Business. Find out more.


2014-15 Events

March 23 - April 25, 2015
Center Art Gallery, exhibition

Jennifer Steensma Hoag: COMPROMISED BEAUTY

From March 23 - April 25, the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College presents COMPROMISED BEAUTY, an exhibition by artist Jennifer Steensma Hoag. Jennifer's photographs of beautiful landscapes are complicated by the inclusion of figures in hazmat suits working within the scene, suggesting contamination of the environment. In this series she explores the correlation between pristine environmental beauty and perceived environmental health, and the impact of humans on the environment.

All the photographs in the exhibition are untitled pigment prints from the Compromised Beauty series. The photographs were taken on location in Michigan, Washington, Oregon and California during a sabbatical in the fall of 2013.

Thank you to Lew Klatt’s 2014 fall semester Creative Writing class who wrote the ekphrastic poems in the exhibition, and to Kendall College of Art & Design for their assistance with the printing of the photographs.

This exhibition was made possible by support from Calvin CollegeCalvin Center for Christian Scholarshipand The Mellema Program in Western American Studies.

A special note of gratitude to Paul Hoag for his interest and active participation in this project, and for his continued support of my work - Jennifer Steensma Hoag

Artist Talk

Friday, March 27 - 1:30pm (Spoelhof 150)
Please join us in the Department of Art and Art History for this event.


Friday, March 2 - 6pm (Center Art Gallery)
Refreshments provided in the West Lobby outside the gallery.


Wednesday, February 18
3:30 PM, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Will Katerberg (Calvin College)

In the Presence of Our Enemies: Far Right Anti-Communism and American Political Culture, 1945-1970

This talk will summarize the history of anti-communism from the 1940s to the 1970s, but will focus on the period after McCarthy's fall, when mainstream anti-communism waned, leaving "extremist" groups to keep up the fight. Of the countless individuals and organizations associated with "far right" anti-communism, we'll examine Dan Smoot, the Minute Women of the U.S.A., the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, John Stormer, and the Cardinal Mindzsenty Foundation. Anti-communists like these found themselves labeled “extremist” in the early 1960s just as new forms of radicalism began to emerge in the U.S. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the Black Panthers, SDS, Weather Underground, counterculture, and anti-war movements flourished on the “far Left,” militant anti-communists struggled financially and had to appeal to dwindling numbers of supporters to keep their operations going. But despite their fears that global communism was winning the battle for hearts and minds in America, all was not lost for them.

Will Katerberg is the chair of the history department at Calvin. He is a cultural historian of the U.S. and Canada, with research interests in the North American West, religion and politics, literature and film, comparative history, and social theory. This talk is based on a chapter from the research he did during his 2012 sabbatical. Co-sponsored with the History Department.


October 30 - December 20, 2014

Center Art Gallery, exhibition

"Tracing the Past: Edward Curtis and the North American Indian"

Sponsored by the Mellema Program in Western American Studies & the Office for Multicultural Affairs

From October 30 to December 20, 2014, the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College presents Tracing the Past: Edward Curtis and The North American Indian, and joins in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans during Native American History Month. This exhibition pairs over 40 original photogravures from Edward Curtis’ early 20th century documentary project on The North American Indian, with 24 Native American artifacts from the same era.

Edward Curtis began his project in 1900, originally planning to take five years to complete it. However, due to the complicated nature, growing expense, and immense scope of work, the project took 30 years. During that time he took over 40,000 images and collected ethnographic information from over 80 American Indian tribal groups. Supported by such prominent and powerful figures as President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan, The North American Indian consisted of 20 volumes, each containing 75 hand-pressed photogravures and 300 pages of text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio, which contained at least 36 large photogravures. This exhibition contains 40 of these alrge photogravures, representing a wide range of tribes such as Apache, Navaho, Sioux, Hupa, Zuni, Nootka, and Hopi.

The Center Art Gallery is grateful to the Muskegon Museum of Art and the Grand Rapids Public Museumfor loans of the Edward Curtis photogravures and Native American artifacts. This exhibition is co-sponsored with the Center Art Gallery and the Office for Multicultural Affairs. In addition to the ongoing exhibition, a number of special programs will be offered:

William Katerberg & Elizabeth Van Arragon:
“Vanishing Indians? Native Americans and the Documentary Photography of Edward Curtis”

Friday, November 7, 7pm (Covenant Fine Arts Center, Recital Hall) Reception to follow

This lecture will attempt to put in historical context Edward Curtis and the Native American subjects in his photographs. Professors Willam Katerberg and Elizabeth Van Arragon will look at depictions of Native Americans in the 19th and early 20th century and explore the context of documentary/portrait photography at the time.

Film: “Reel Injun” (2009)

Thursday, November 13, 6pm (DeVos Center, Bytwerk Theatre)

“Reel Injun” is a documentary film that explores the many stereotypes about Natives in film, illustrated with excerpts from classic and contemporary portrayals of Native people in Hollywood movies. Film introduction by Willam Katerberg. 

William Wilson:
“The Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange, CIPX”

Friday, November 21, 7pm (Covenant Fine Arts Center, Recital Hall) Reception to follow

Lecture with artist William Wilson, who spent his formative years living in the Navajo Nation, will present on his work, where he seeks to resume the documentary mission of Curtis from the standpoint of a 21st century indigenous practitioner.

Film: “More Than Frybread” (2011)

Thursday, December 4, 6pm (DeVos Center, Bytwerk Theatre)

A documentary-style film centered on the fictionalized 1st Annual Frybread Championship in the state of Arizona, “More Than Frybread” follows frybread makers from the twenty-two federally recognized tribes in Arizona as they compete for the title. Film introduction with Professor Carl Plantinga.



Find out more about past events.


Go Deeper

Our programs and centers enable students to minor in diverse areas including Archaeology, African Studies, Asian Studies, Gender Studies, Latin American Studies, Medieval Studies, and International Development.

Calvin also hosts the H. Henry Meeter Center, North America’s premier research collection devoted to the writings of John Calvin and early Calvinists; the Colonial Origins Collection, a rich store of materials pertaining to Dutch emigration, the Christian Reformed Church, and related institutions; and the new Mellema Program in Western American Studies for studies in the American and Canadian West.

Mellema Program
in Western American Studies

History Department
Calvin College
1845 Knollcrest Circle SE
Grand Rapids, MI

Director: William Katerberg
(616) 526-6047