For Immediate Release

The Collection in Context

Exhibition features the finest works in GRAM’s permanent collection

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, May 6, 2016 – The Grand Rapids Art Museum is proud to announce its summer exhibition, The Collection in Context, which will be on view May 22, 2016 through August 14, 2016.

The exhibition will feature many of GRAM’s new acquisitions and works of art never seen in Grand Rapids, such as Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and Jun Kaneko’s Large Dango, alongside beloved classics by Alexander Calder, Mary Cassatt, Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Gauguin, and more. Important temporary loans from the Whitney Museum of American Art and exclusive private collections round out the exhibition, including photography by Cindy Sherman, prints by Elizabeth Catlett, and new work from Anila Quayyum Agha.

The best museums are continually shuffling’ the ways their members and guests encounter and enjoy cherished works,” said Dana Friis-Hansen, Director & CEO. The Collection in Context—which shines a spotlight on many of GRAM’s masterpieces while introducing some new acquisitions and spectacular temporary loans — is the first major exhibition drawn from the Museum’s collection since 2010. I encourage everyone to bring a friend — there will be lots to look at, and much to talk about!“

The Collection in Context rearranges and remixes art work from different time periods, styles, and media to present new and unexpected ways of looking, learning, and responding to art. Art can inspire varied, personal, and beautiful responses, depending on our own unique experiences and perspectives. The exhibition celebrates this variety of perspectives within the community. A special element of the exhibition is the diverse interpretations of artwork by Grand Rapids community members, which will be featured in writing throughout the exhibition. These interpretations are provided by a wide array of individuals such as the artists themselves, 3rd grade students, local religious leaders, past ArtPrize winners, and United States Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Chief Curator, Ron Platt, has arranged the exhibition into four distinct thematic groupings:

  • The Evolving Landscape presents paintings and works on paper that embody humankind’s evolving relationship with the natural world and the changing ways we depict the natural world in art.
  • Faith and Its Symbols includes works of art that incorporate the symbols and icons of the world’s major faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. These collected works demonstrate the inter­con­nect­ed­ness of faith and symbolism and give insight into the cultures in which each object was produced.
  • Nature-based Abstraction showcases abstract sculpture, painting, and decorative objects inspired by nature.
  • Representing Women includes works featuring female subjects that reveal society’s changing attitudes toward women over the past two centuries.

The show’s division into thematic categories allows us to create new groupings and pairings of some of the great works of art in GRAM’s collection,” explained Chief Curator, Ron Platt. This gives visitors the opportunity to see something new in a familiar piece, or to think about connections between works which had never been shown together. We invited over forty people from all walks of life to contribute wall labels addressing different works in the exhibition, which reinforces two things: the diversity of individuals that make up one’s community, and that art is something a person approaches and interprets based on his or her own experiences.”

Concurrent Exhibitions:
Maureen Nollette: Honorable Ordinaries
May 19, 2016 – August 14, 2016
Maureen Nollette’s work explores the beauty and meaning of repetitive patterns, grid systems, and their collective place within both modern art and traditional textile crafts. She is interested in the perceived value difference between the geometric grid as utilized in modernist art, and the patterning of quilts and other textile crafts that have historically been dismissed as women’s work.” Though Nollette’s art comments on the tradition of textile crafts, she substitutes household materials like paper, contact paper, and fiberglass mesh for fabric.

Whistler and his Circle: Etchings from the Permanent Collection
May 22, 2016 – August 14, 2016
James McNeill Whistler was an international artist, one of the 19th century’s true masters. His early paintings and prints were rooted in European Realism of the past and present, and his etching style in particular drew inspiration from seventeenth-century Dutch artists such as Rembrandt. Whistler soon turned away from Realism towards a more expressive style, creating paintings, pastels, and prints of people and landscapes drawn with poetic suggestiveness rather than visual accuracy. This exhibition focuses on five of the artists who worked alongside him in this way: Otto Bacher, Frank Duveneck, Francis Seymour Haden, Alphonse Legros, and Mortimer Menpes, as well as other artists who knew Whistler personally, including Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and James Tissot. All of the prints in the exhibition were created during Whistler’s lifetime, giving the viewer a unique window into the artistic world surrounding this remarkable artist.

Mirror Memory
June 3, 2016 – August 21, 2016
Drawn entirely from GRAM’s permanent collection, Mirror Memory surveys two centuries of photographic landscapes, portraits, novelties, and experimental works, including examples of early daguerreotypes and tintypes, classic black and white images, and large-scale digital prints in bold color. Among the photographers represented are Berenice Abbott, Julia Margaret Cameron, Robert Frank, and Edward Steichen– some of the medium’s most prominent names. Mirror Memory refers to the term the mirror with a memory,” which was coined to describe photography’s uncanny ability to capture and keep an image for all time. As this exhibition amply demonstrates, photography still has the power to fascinate, move, and challenge viewers.

Modern Design at GRAM: 20th Century Furniture
February 23, 2016 – September 4, 2016
20th century designers pushed the limits of these new technologies, discovering new manufacturing processes and utilizing new materials such as molded plywood, plastic, and laminate. Modern furniture designs continue to capture our interest, which in addition to being functional and affordable, have come to be viewed as works of art in their own right. Discover GRAM’s incredible modern furniture collection and view the iconic designs of Charles and Ray Eames, Sol LeWitt, Frank Ghery, Marcel Breuer, and more in Modern Design at GRAM: 20th Century Furniture.

GRAM Selects ArtPrize Seven: Encore
November 27, 2015 – August 14, 2016
GRAM Selects ArtPrize Seven: Encore will showcase some of the strongest works exhibited across Grand Rapids during the annual art competition. GRAM curators will be selecting works originally shown in various ArtPrize venues to be part of an exclusive extension of the ArtPrize experience at GRAM. Chosen for their artistic strength and resonance with the museum’s collection, works from ArtPrize Seven will be displayed among works in GRAM’s collection spanning many centuries, on all three floors of the Museum. Displaying contemporary works of art in and among the Museum’s permanent collection will encourage guests to explore the unique and surprising connections between them. Chosen works will be announced at the conclusion of ArtPrize Seven, and will be on view by Thanksgiving weekend.

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum
Focusing on art, design, and creativity, GRAM provides diverse platforms for experiences, ideas, and dialogue that enrich the human spirit and build practical learning skills. Through dynamic exhibitions, collections, learning initiatives, and community collaborations, GRAM increasingly serves as a cultural beacon and civic anchor. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 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 GRAM’s hours and admission fees, visit or call 616 – 831-1000.
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