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Transforming Matter: Incarnation, Sacraments, and Saints in Catholic Art and Devotion

This is a past event.

Saturday, May 18, 2024 10am to 4pm

271 Columbia Avenue, Holland, MI 49423-3650

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The public is invited.  Admission is free.

“Transforming Matter” was curated by five students from the Hope Catholics student organization working under the supervision of Dr. Jared Ortiz, who is the Lavern ’39 and Betty DePree ’41 Van Klay Professor of Religion. The exhibition, which opened on Friday, Jan. 12, features 25 artworks that reflect different aspects of Catholic theology and religious practice. Artworks in the exhibition include paintings, prints, sculptures and liturgical objects that range in date from the late 15th to the early 21st centuries. All of the artworks in the exhibition belong to the Kruizenga Art Museum’s permanent collection.

“The Christian religion is gritty,” Ortiz said. “God became flesh and appeared as a baby born in a barn in a forgotten corner of the Roman empire. He lived through every stage of human existence in order to restore every stage of human life back to communion with God. He was killed on a cross and buried in a stone tomb, but rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. God did this to save us, that is, to redeem us from sin and death. This is the great mystery of Christianity: God became what we are so that we can become what he is. The exhibition curated by my students explores the many ways that God enters into created reality to transform it for our salvation.”

The exhibition is divided into five thematic sections: Incarnation, Sacraments, Saints, End Times and the Global Church. Each section contains a selection of artworks that illustrate different aspects of the section’s theme. The artworks were chosen by the five student curators both for their relevance to the themes and for their aesthetic qualities and how they look displayed together.

“The pieces we considered came from all over the world and were varied in their artistic style, reminding me of the universality and diversity of the Catholic Church,” said student curator Karlie Platz. “I think the artwork we chose reflects visibly the often-invisible reality of a God who has entered and always continues to enter into our human condition.”

Among the highlights of the exhibition is an engraving created by French artist Claude Mellan in 1649. It depicts the Veil of Veronica, a cloth that is said to have had the face of Jesus Christ divinely imprinted on it after it was used by a kindly woman to wipe Christ’s face as he was carrying the cross to Golgotha.

Another notable artwork in the exhibition is a silver monstrance — a vessel used to display the Eucharistic host — that was created by artists in the Philippines in the late 18th century. This exhibition marks the first time that the monstrance, and several other artworks, have been made available for public viewing.

The Kruizenga Art Museum functions as an educational resource for Hope College and the greater West Michigan community. The museum features two public galleries as well as a study room and climate-controlled storage space for its 7,000-object permanent collection. It is named in honor of a leadership gift from the late Dr. Richard and Margaret Kruizenga of Holland, both of whom graduated from Hope in 1952.


  • Rick Amidon

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