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“Then Again, Maybe Not”

Posted October 20, 2011

On a cold and rainy fall day in Grand Rapids, three Chicago based artists gathered in the main floor Gallery Space to talk to a group of students about their work hanging on the walls all around.  “Then again, Maybe Not” is the title of this exhibit in the Kendall Gallery at Kendall College of Art and Design.  

Each of the three artists were given a few minutes to talk about their work. I found them all to be articulate and thought provoking as they strove to explain their work and share ideas about what it means to be an artist today.













In his artist statement Richard Kooyman, said, “Good Art can make you see things and feel things that you have never felt before.  The best art grabs the viewer and arrests them and turns their focus outward from themselves.”  

For an hour on a Wednesday afternoon, this is what this discussion did for me.  

Kooyman’s pieces are based an an interest he developed recently in 17th century Dutch still life paintings.  “You will see references to history yet relevant today, “  he explained.  The bright, bold splashes of color certainly grabbed my eye and focused the attention while details made me ponder.


Nina Rizzo, was probably the most organized in her explanations of what drives her work.  She told the students that travel has a huge impact.  “I’m interested in the topics of space and place,” she explains pointing to a piece inspired by salt crystals at a mine in Poland.  

“I like the idea that they came from nature, becoming a kind of sculpture and then on a canvas.  This to me fits with the title of the show, ‘Then again, maybe not’,”  she said, waving her hands about, wearing jeans and a green scarf wrapped around her neck.


Michelle Wasson commented on how well she thought the work of the three artists hung together, almost as if they were a single person show.  She explained that  art history, relationships and science fiction have informed her work over the years. 

“Recently I have come to the conclusion that most of my work are really psychological portraits,” she commented pointing to the Piccaso like piece on the back wall of the gallery.  I would have liked to have understood more what she meant by that.


During the lively Q and A I was struck by Kooyman’s comment that “Painting is like nest building. We all have different ways of building a nest.”  

It seemed to resonate with the audience. The heads of the students  gathered around nodded in silent agreement.  

~Susan J. Smith


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