Dordt College News

‘The Space Between’ is Van Geest's contribution to Jubilee

October 6, 2004

Dordt College art professor Susan Van Geest has completed an art installation at Dordt College’s John and Louise Hulst Library, in conjunction with the college’s 50th anniversary celebration.

An artist reception honoring Van Geest’s work will be Friday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. in the library. The Space Within

“The Space Between: Jubilee 2005” consists of 50 individual or groupings of boxes, representing each year of Dordt College’s existence. Van Geest gathered materials for the composition of each box from the campus and surrounding area for nearly a year, including everything from butterflies to stamps to fish skin to wedding invitations.

The 50 containers represent the contributions or offerings of time, energy and talent made by students, staff and faculty since the college’s inception. The contents are not organized by material or by calendar years because, says Van Geest, “How the pieces relate to each other, how we connect to one another, to previous accomplishments, and offerings is very significant. The organization of the parts can’t be done by any one of us; these spaces between are organized by God, who sees through history and generously chooses to use us for his larger purposes.”

She adds that the area between and surrounding the containers is just as important as the containers themselves, as these spaces represent resting places where God can organize our offerings, giving them direction and purpose. The wall installation is composed of verticals and horizontals, on a large scale and also within the works. This reflects our directions: horizontal meaning that we are earth-bound and vertical signifying that we are seeking something that is beyond ourselves.

The work is composed of many parts to represent the fact that there are many lives, contributors and contributions to the whole. The boxes and frames vary in size indicating the degree of disparity or abundance of the 50 years represented.

Some boxes represent a specific academic discipline: biology, chemistry, computer services, art, the library, residence life, maintenance or political studies. But each box is just a part of something greater, which is not always visible.

Van Geest encourages viewers to spend time with the piece, ponder ideas, enjoy the images and reflect on possible interpretations. “It’s intended to be a meditative piece. I hope people will visit it repeatedly and see different possibilities each time they see the work.”

She encourages viewers to first look at “The Space Between” from a distance, noting horizontals and verticals, the way in which the boxes fill the wall, and how they interact with each other. Then move closer and note details: the landscape in one box, or the commentary on modern art in another. Consider which of the boxes best relates to the contribution you have made to Dordt College, or create your own box in the scheme of this work of art.

“While we work, we are often unaware of how we fit into the larger image, but we know we work with purpose and direction. So humility is extremely important, recognizing our limitations (the boxes) and having faith that our honest offerings will somehow contribute to the whole, often in unexpected ways,” said Van Geest.

The materials in the art installation will fade, rust or disintegrate, just as this world is temporary and things will fade to nothing, concludes Van Geest. But there is joy in knowing that we have made an offering or contribution, and God will bless it and use it and change it according to His plan.

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