GVSU art students submit work to Michigan Collegiate Art Exhibition

By Carmen Smith | 3/26/17 10:31pm

GVL / Courtesy - Betsy Vollmar

Grand Valley State University art students Jillian Thompson, Gina Pisto and Betsy Vollmar had their best work showcased in the 2017 Michigan Collegiate Art Exhibition.

The exhibition debuted on March 1 and will be open free to the public until March 28 at the Lansing Gallery in Lansing, Michigan. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Michigan Collegiate Art Exhibition is a competitive exhibition that allows student artists to showcase their work alongside students from other universities. The exhibition provides ample opportunities for networking and challenging conceptual capabilities.

Eight colleges are represented at the exhibition, including: Alma College, Albion College, Central Michigan University, College for Creative Studies, GVSU, Kendall College of Art and Design, Michigan State University and Western Michigan University. Thompson, Pisto and Vollmar are three of 30 students selected to submit their work.

“I did it because a lot of people don’t know that Grand Valley has an art program. People are more aware of schools like CCS and Kendall,” Thompson said. “So, it’s cool that the three of us got in.”

Both Vollmar and Pisto have a focus in ceramics and chose pieces from larger bodies of work they’ve previously created. Vollmar’s work focuses on the relationship with humans and minerals and says that she is coming into her own with her work and is feeling more confident with exhibiting her work and applying to competitive shows.

“It is an honor to be considered and accepted to a show," Vollmar said. "Exhibiting to an audience is encouraging because it allows me to put my work out there and network with emerging artists."

Pisto’s work exemplifies her love of animals and her disdain for the mistreatment and exploitation of them. She says that clay is a vehicle for creating a narrative about the sources and results of this systematic abuse.

“My favorite aspect of making is continuously problem-solving and attempting to find creative solutions for the obstacles I face when making my work, “Pisto said. “I am always trying to find the most efficient way to make objects, as well as the most effective means of showing my ideas to my audience. 

"My favorite thing about presenting art to a large audience is watching people's reactions and hearing what they have to say about my work and other work in the show.”

Thompson submitted a print piece, though her major and focus of studies is in jewelry metalsmithing. Her work highlights African American identity, especially regarding women and the social norms people are uncomfortable talking about. Thompson’s submissions include a visual aspect that paired with jewelry. 

The prints she created feature photos of Beyonce, except Thompson darkened her skin and her hair color, urging viewers to think about identity and how African American women are seen, especially in the media, and how lighter skinned women are often favored.

“The best part was having my work in the show because I don’t think there’s a lot of African American voice in art, in college specifically,” Thompson said. “My favorite part is getting people to talk about the issues that are behind the work. Especially with my work, it’s about how you view others, how others view you.

"I think it’s really good to get conversations going, and that’s what I want to carry on throughout my career.”

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