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News & Stories: 2008-09

106 hosts solo student shows January 23, 2009

In preparation for her solo exhibition, Miranda Brouwer has spent the last week- and-a-half winding thread around nails.

Photo of Miranda Brouwer"I've spent pretty much from Wednesday last week in here,” she said Calvin’s (106) S. Division gallery, where her exhibition, “The Tangible and Intangible,” will run from January 23 through February 13. “If not five hours a day, then 10 or 12. Each piece takes, like, eight hours to install, and there are eight pieces.”

Stringing identity

Brouwer, a 22-year-old bachelor of fine arts (BFA) major, has used the tiny nails and various weights and colors of string to create seven life-sized images of women on the walls of (106).

"They’re almost like weavings,” Calvin director of exhibitions Joel Zwart described Brouwer’s work. “The outline of the images is very organic. They’re images of bodies, and then the interior is this very geometric pattern that is created by these lines crossing from nail to nail.”

As she did some final stringing on the images on Thursday afternoon, Brouwer reflected on her work: “I think they suggest reading the formation of identity—especially the identity of the female as influenced by fashion magazines,” she said.

"A lot of people that age are bombarded with images of how you’re supposed to look, and she’s reacting to that,” Zwart added.

Inspired as a GEM

Brouwer, a native of Escondido, Calif., got the idea for working in string images from the memory of an nail-and-string cross she made as a GEM (a member of Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior, a club in the Christian Reformed Church.) “I was kind of frustrated with the mediums I was working in, and I was wanting to branch out into something new,” she said. “And installations were interesting to me.”

Photo of string image of woman"The Tangible and Intangible” is an ambitious undertaking. "It’s very labor intensive … ,” said Zwart. “You can imagine outlining eight figures on the wall and then driving nails over those outlines—and then connecting all those with thread …  I think it’s very successful. I just like the approach.”

"The Tangible and Intangible” is one of two solo student shows that will run back to back at (106).

From February 20 through March 13, the downtown Grand Rapids gallery will exhibit “caves and other hallowed homes,” an exhibition by Natalie Good. The multimedia exhibition features drawings, prints and one installation by the a 21-year-old BFA and art history major from Dayton, Ohio. Many of them incorporate natural materials.

Intersecting with the natural world

"They kind of discuss the place of humans in the environment and the natural world. There will be, like, mountains, and then a telephone wire through it,” Good explained her work. “I’m more interested in the way that things co-exist together, the way that humans exist inside the environment—and that’s negative and positive.”

The artist is looking forward to exhibiting at (106). “The space is really versatile because the walls are moveable,” Good said. “I’ll be able to make the space fit the show … And the location is great because a lot of people walk in. A lot of people will be able to see it.”

Flow of traffic

The downtown gallery does attract considerable foot traffic, Zwart confirmed. The number of visitors has more than doubled every year since the opening of the exhibition space: “We started out down there in 2005 with no additional staff, and the situation down there was pretty rudimentary,” he said.

In the years since then, gallery assistant Kevin Buist has been hired to maintain (106). And the neighborhood has developed, attracting new stores and upscale restaurants. Now the gallery's visitors 3,488 in 2007-'08, are a little less than the approximately 5,000 drawn by the Center Art Gallery every year.

"We can showcase national and international artists—and classes and students,” Zwart said of (106). "Natalie and Miranda are the latest to secure solo shows there, which is exciting for their resumes and their artistic development.”

Though she was a little tired of winding string, Brouwer was enjoying the hours she spent at (106), preparing her show: “It’s really nice,” she said. “The gallery just has a good feel to it, and there’s lots of stuff happening around town.”

~by Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing

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