Collaborative Art Exhibit Explores Grieving at GV – Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Grand Valley State University Art Gallery hosted a brand new exhibit Thursday, titled “Sorrow/Fullness: A Reflection on Mourning.” It is a showcase of goldsmithing that looks at grief and loss through the lens of reflection and celebration. The exhibit was a collaboration between three metalworking artists, including Sue Amendolara, Adrienne M. Grafton, and GVSU Professor Renee Zettle-Sterling.

Amendolara and Grafton were unable to attend, but it was ultimately a success, with overwhelmingly positive reception from those who attended.

I just wish Sue and Adrienne could have been there with me,” Zettle-Sterling said. “I felt people were receptive to the work and the ideas surrounding the show. I received a lot of questions and the interest seemed to be positive.

The exhibition was a big deal for the artists, as it saw them return to a world where their work could be seen by viewers in person. Zettle-Sterling said the energy surrounding a live broadcast simply doesn’t compare to online screenings.

“I feel very lucky that the show can be seen live,” Zettle-Sterling said. “I’ve been to several exhibitions that have been forced to be online exhibitions and it’s just not the same. It reminds me of online teaching versus in-person teaching; it’s not just isn’t the same and lacks soul.

Grafton was also happy to return to the in-person exhibit, as bringing artists together to show and discuss efforts was her favorite aspect of pre-COVID exhibits. She was also grateful for the precautions and actions taken by GVSU to better present the project.

“It was truly wonderful to be with friends and family again when we opened in October at the Erie Art Museum,” Grafton said. “When the pandemic hit, one of the things I missed the most was openings and museums. I absolutely love meeting artists and watching and discussing the work. With the latest increase in COVID-19 , it’s daunting to come together again, but I’m very pleased with the online presence that GVSU has created to showcase this exhibit.

“Sorrow/Fullness” explores the realm of grief and loss, with a particular focus on celebrating the lives of lost loved ones and the experiences shared with them. The artworks have a very personal connection to the artists, as they were inspired by the lost loved ones in their own lives.

Grafton’s work was inspired by his mother, who passed away in 2014. The event was something that touched her deeply, ultimately inspiring the pieces featured in “Sorrow/Fullness.”

“A few years after he passed away, I started using grief as inspiration for all of the work in the series,” Grafton said. “Work for me is about the passage of time and memories. I use recognizable images to tell stories about my emotions and experiences. In my article titled “Residue,” I took my mother’s old used makeup and dipped it in plaster. The fragile shell encloses the things she touched every day that were an important part of her daily routine.

Amendolara’s work for the project was also inspired by the loss of her parents. She said her goal was to celebrate the experiences she had with them and to continue them with the surviving family members.

As a child, I spent a lot of time in my parents’ interior design studio looking at fabrics, wallpapers, antiques, etc. Amendolara said. “I loved talking with my dad about the projects he was working on, and it was those experiences that led me to become a craftsman.”

Working with different materials led Amendolara to create the piece she made for this exhibition. She took pieces that were personal to her and those close to her to do something else with them.

“I made a pair of tapestry scissors using flowers poured from my mother’s funeral bouquet,” Amendolara said. “The scissors are deconstructed, suggesting lingering grief or the inability to heal. The scissors rest on a small silk quilt from my wedding dress; a reference to family.

Coming together to deal with grief collectively is a powerful and healing concept that really blossomed with “Grief/Plenitude”. It has caused people everywhere to experience artists’ grief as a way to overcome their own. Each of the artists hopes that everyone who comes to see their work helps them use it to deal with their personal situation and hopefully expand the conversation around grief and loss.

The exhibition will be on view at the Haas Center for Performing Arts Gallery through April 1, 2022. For more information on the project and each of the artists, visit the GVSU Art Gallery website here.

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