Ólafur Elíasson, Space resonates regardless of our presence (Thursday), 2017. Prismatic glass ring, color-effect filter glass (orange), LED light fixture, stainless steel, and brass, 48 13/16 x 29¼ x 40 inches. Collection of the Carl & Marilyn Thoma Foundation. © Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

For Immediate Release

Grand Rapids Art Museum Presents Message from Our Planet: Digital Art from the Thoma Collection

Exhibition features 22 artists working at the forefront of digital and electronic art 

Grand Rapids, MI, May 16, 2023 — Twenty-three software, video, and light-based works of art will be on view this summer at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) in Message from Our Planet: Digital Art from the Thoma Foundation. On view June 17 through September 9, 2023, the exhibition proposes that digital technology offers distinct ways for artists to communicate with future generations. 

Message from Our Planet celebrates digital technologies as an incredible tool for today’s artists,” said GRAM Associate Curator Jennifer Wcisel. The works in the exhibition encompass familiar technologies like digital video and photography to the unexpected visualization of data, assemblages of electronic components, and collages of found-video footage. We look forward to highlighting the myriad possibilities of digital art at GRAM and hope our guests leave with a new, broader understanding of the art form.” 

Spanning the mid-1980s to today, the works in Message from Our Planet utilize a range of vintage and cutting-edge materials to create a polyphonic time-capsule, preserving their ideas, beliefs, and desires. The regional, national, and international artists featured in the exhibition include Ólafur Elíasson, Jenny Holzer, LoVid, Hong Hao, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Christian Marclay, and James Nares. 

Message from Our Planet includes artwork that uses digital technologies as a tool for the creation of more traditional art objects — like a photograph, print, or sculpture — as well as art that is created, stored, and distributed by digital technology and employs their features as its medium. 

The artists in Message from Our Planet engage with nontraditional mediums like video games, computer code, scanners, 3‑D printers, online data, and even discarded electronic parts to create engaging works of digital art that capture the concerns and ambitions of our current era. The earliest work in the exhibition was created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kac in 1986 with a now defunct Minitel terminal, a device used to access the most popular online service prior to the World Wide Web. 

Detroit-based artist Matthew Angelo Harrison uses custom software and a handmade 3D printer to explore history, ancestry, and the relationship between African and African American culture. Harrison’s work, Braided Woman, is a 3D-printed sculpture of an imagined artifact. To create this work, Harrison scanned images of historic African masks from books and online sources, then digitally blended their shapes to generate a unique, composite object. 

Featured Artists
Brian Bress
Lia Chaia
Ólafur Elíasson
Nicholas Galanin
Sabrina Gschwandtner
Hong Hao
Matthew Angelo Harrison
Claudia Hart
Jenny Holzer
Eduardo Kac
Christian Marclay
Lee Lee Nam
James Nares
Paul Pfeiffer
Tabita Rezaire
Michal Rovner
Jason Salavon
Elias Sime
Penelope Umbrico
Robert Wilson

Related Events
Member Exhibition Opening: Message from Our Planet

Friday, June 16 | 7 – 9 pm

Museum Members and their guests are invited to celebrate the opening of Message from Our Planet at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Join us for an advance look at the exhibition, accompanied by hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

RSVP by June 8 | 616.831.2909 or www.artmuseumgr.org/memberopening

Message from Our Planet: Digital Art
from the Thoma Collection is curated and supported by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation. Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by Wege Foundation, with additional funding provided by GRAM Exhibition Society.

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the art museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Founded in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 6,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th-century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft. For museum hours and admission fees, call 616.831.1000 or visit artmuseumgr.org.