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Alumni Weekend features Gutierrez and Hilden art show

By Sally Jongsma

Alumni art shows during the month of February are becoming a homecoming tradition. This year’s artists were Chloe Hilden and Sam Gutierrez.

Hilden’s contribution featured several mixed media relief pieces along with some vibrant abstract photographic images of flowers. Hilden graduated from Dordt in 2002 with a Fine Art degree, focusing on photography and sculpture. Her sculptural work involves primarily mixed media relief, as the Alumni Show illustrated. She recently completed a series of pieces that she made while expecting her first child. In the nine pieces in the show, she uses the alphabet to consider the attributes of God.

Sam Gutierrez

Sam Gutierrez

“I wanted to provide him not only with something unique to adorn his room but also to combine elementary lessons with the profound,” she says. The mostly wood works also use glass, metal, paper, leather, dried plants, and even a bit of ribbon. Hilden describes the other works in the show as macro photography images of flowers that explore color and shape. 

“This has been my primary photographic focus since graduating, and I continue to find a fascination with capturing and celebrating the everyday details of life in new and inspiring ways through abstracted representation,” she says.

  Before becoming a mom in December 2006, Hilden worked as the communications director for First Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Following the birth of her son, she decided to dedicate more of her time to mothering and, she hopes, art making. Hilden also serves as an Artist-in-Resident on occasion through an organization called COMPAS that serves schools and communities throughout Minnesota, and she is a member and the membership coordinator of the Robbin Gallery, a small member-run gallery in her hometown of Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

  Sam Gutierrez graduated with an art major in 2000 and, even though he has never earned a regular “pay check” through his art making, he continues to create works of art in his spare time—mostly on the weekends. Gutierrez, who is an accomplished printmaker, had a show at Dordt three years ago that was made up of black and white relief prints (linocuts). In the current show, he uses more color, focusing especially on the interaction of color and shape.

“I find people the most fascinating subject matter, and I love to explore their shapes, bodies, and faces,” he says. “Being human is mysterious, playful, intriguing and beautiful.”  The February show was a mostly playful collection of works, including not only human faces, but also machines, water towers, angels, and devils. Some works also explored serious issues: the influence of mass media—for good or bad, mental illness, and the relational effects of the Fall. Gutierrez’s inspirations range from a sermon on Job for “Angle Noise” to the sleek water tower north of Sioux Center for “Tower Power” to experiences with people struggling with mental illness for “Trouble.”

Chloe Hilden

Chloe Hilden

“It’s an eclectic grouping of work,” Gutierrez says. He enjoys looking for new ways to see the world. “Creativity needs to be nurtured or it dies,” he says. He doesn’t want his creativity to die, so he makes time on weekends and in summers to do his art. He no longer dreams of being a famous artist, as he once did, and in fact, he says, he’s not sure he would want to do art full-time.

“It’s a bit of a solitary existence,” he says. Working in a studio for long stretches of time is energizing but also isolating. He has come to believe that the inspiration he gets from other parts of his life feed his creativity in positive ways.

Gutierrez has been working as a campus ministry assistant and resident director at Dordt College for the past four years. Prior to that he worked as a youth pastor in California, where he grew up. Next year he plans to attend seminary.

“I enjoy making art and making it accessible to people,” he says. And he likes the fact that he sells enough of it to pay for the materials to continue to create new art. For a look at more of Sam Gutierrez's work visit