The Voice: Spring 2003

The Voice

Art commissions for Campus Center are now complete

By: Sally Jongsma

LIJA, by Barb and Lauren Ochsner.

The final piece of commissioned artwork for the new Campus Center was hung over semester break. It is a large stained glass work titled “LIJA” and created by Lauren Ochsner and his wife, Barb. The large piece, with eight-foot high panels and a diameter of six feet, hangs in the west entry to the Campus Center complex, at the northwest corner of the library. The piece features six panels, three of which are dominated by vibrant torches. The torches symbolize several things, says Ochsner: the Trinity, knowledge, and especially the passing of the torch of faith from one generation to the next. The letters L-I-J-A are the first letters of Lauren’s and Barb’s parents’ names—who passed the torch of faith on to them. The torch will, Lord willing, they hope, continue to be passed on in this place—also to their children—four of whom are also alums or students of Dordt College.

Hanging above the three-story lounge on the east side of the building is a mobile created by David Versluis, the newest member of the art faculty. Versluis’s piece titled “Fruitfulness” features bright yellow circles that fill and warm the space. Versluis says the playful yellow shapes and metallic branches symbolize a tree and its fruit. Its large scale fills the space, space that changes as sections of the mobile catch the building’s air currents and move, sometimes touching, then reacting and interacting with each other. For Versluis the piece becomes a metaphor for the Christian life and the Christian college community working and living together.

The final piece is a wall sculpture by Jeff Freeman, an art professor at the University of South Dakota and someone who had a formative role in the education of Dordt College Art Professor Susan Van Geest. The sculpture is titled “The Colossian Force Reigns.” Freeman says he once heard a scientist refer to “the Colossian force” as that which holds the universe together. His title comes from Colossians 1: 16 - 18, which talk about Christ as head of all and in whom all things hold together.
'Fruitfulness' by David Versluis.

All three works were commissioned by the college art committee, a permanent committee responsible for purchasing art for the campus. As Freeman said after installing his commissioned piece, “The art is really humanizing this building.”

But art isn’t hung simply to humanize the space. It illustrates how using the variety of gifts God has given his people contributes to a richer, fuller life. That is why as an institution that gives testimony to the lordship of Christ over all of life, Dordt College commits time and resources to art. Doing art is one way to “cultivate” God’s creation. Displaying art is one way to encourage appreciation for its place in our lives and our culture. It also encourages young Christian artists to consider a career in art.

While the budget isn’t large, over the years the college has steadily accumulated a variety of works that are displayed around campus. Purchases are made from three groups of artists: Dordt College faculty, students, and alumni; Christian artists from around the world; and local artists. Such guidelines not only help the committee know where to begin looking for art to purchase, but also allow the college to support artists who share something with us. And student artists benefit. Each spring the college purchases some of the best student work of graduating seniors to include in its permanent collection.

Freeman is not the first visitor to comment about the impact of the art on campus.