Dordt College News

Wood artisans exhibit work at Dordt

October 16, 2009


A display of handcrafted woodwork is being shown at the Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery from Oct. 16 through Nov. 14, with an open house artist reception on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 5- 7 p.m.

The work of three Dordt alumni is featured in the exhibit: Jesse Hagey (Class of ’06), Gregg Hooyer (Class of ’84), and Delmar Vander Zee (Class of ’66).

Jesse Hagey says in his artist statement, “I try to work as honestly and reverently with wood as I can … That means retaining its natural properties and doing as much handwork as possible.” He also limits the use of stains or pigments to bring out the inherent beauty of the wood in a piece of furniture.

Hagey tries to build pieces that stand the test of time, with thought to future generations as well as the present. “I do not use nails or screws to hold my pieces together,” says Hagey, because wood and metal move differently and become incompatible over an extended period of time.

Gregg Hooyer, owner of the Good Wood Shop in Sioux Center, has been a major force in woodworking in the area, and has also helped Vander Zee in the trade. “The challenge of fine woodworking is not just design,” says Hooyer. “If a good design is winning the game, then technical skill is playing the game.” Working with wood demands physical dexterity, strength, thoughtfulness, and an understanding of wood and tools. “You need to be an artist and an engineer. To master the medium you must master technique.”

In his artist’s statement Hooyer says “Life is enriched in multiple ways when we use our creative skills. I believe we are imaging our Creator when we create and there is a time when we too can say, in our limited human way, ‘It is good.’”


Del Vander Zee’s interest in woodworking began as a child, when he begged his parents to buy him a jig saw for Christmas. He enjoys planning, designing, and working with his hands to produce useful objects that are well-crafted and show the potential beauty of wood.

Vander Zee retired as a biology professor at Dordt last spring, but his avocation ties into his vocation: he uses local hardwood trees such as ash and black walnut that are cut, rough sawn, and dried. He then planes them into useful lumber. “Each wood species has its own peculiar characteristics including color, grain, response to finishes, ease of cutting or joining, and strength,” says Vander Zee in his artist statement. Most of his work has been created as gifts to family, friends, his church, or to Christian School fund-raising auctions.

The public is invited to this free woodwork exhibition. The Campus Center Art Gallery is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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