Oct 21, 2022

Artist, Sioux Center native to hold gallery exhibit at Dordt

Dordt University’s Art Department will host “A Given: Place,” a gallery exhibit featuring the work of artist and Dordt alumna Naomi Friend. The exhibit, which will be held from October 24 until December 9, will be on display in the Department of Art and Design Gallery in the Ribbens Academic Complex.

An artist reception will be held on Friday, October 28 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. to kick off the exhibit.

Friend is a professional artist making work about the Midwest. She explores the farms, prairies, and the creatures who live on the legacy of the tallgrass prairie. She and her husband own and operate Friend’s Flowers, a cut flower farm. The art practice, farm practice, and family practice together weave a story.

“A Given: Place” is inspired by Friend’s continual theme of exploring stewardship of the land, our place, and what that teaches us about God.

“I believe we are made to participate as collaborators in creation,” she says. “In Iowa, we are fabulously productive agriculturally, but also very extractive and destructive. I hope to explore thoughts about balance, what creates value, and expanding our definition of ‘richness.’”

The exhibit includes a new series of paintings responding to Dutch still life artwork, which “focuses on flowers I’ve grown and sold at my farmer’s market booth, which I paint over cyanotype backgrounds,” says Friend. “The cyanotypes are made of images that reflect the places these plants originate from combined with images of my farm or Iowa agriculture.” The exhibit contains selections from several series that Friend has been adding to since 2013.

After growing up in Sioux Center and graduating from Dordt in 2010 with a fine art and graphic design degree, Friend earned a Master of Fine Art in Integrated Visual Arts degree at Iowa State University in 2013. She worked for three years at the Octagon Center for the Arts as an exhibit director. She has held solo shows in Iowa, California, Nebraska, and elsewhere. Her work has been recognized by local radio, newspapers, and magazines; her pieces have been included in public and private art collections. Currently, her work is included in a “4 under 40” show at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art in David City, Nebraska.

Showing at Dordt is an opportunity to explore issues of faith in my work in a more detailed way, explains Friend.

“Very often, my work is seen in non-religious contexts, and it can limit the conversation and interpretation, or spin off into tangential conversations,” she says. “I appreciate speaking to students and sharing what I have learned about being a professional artist since graduating from Dordt, as a sort of gathering and bringing home. But also, I like to think back on my time in the studios and remember how many of the skills I learned there are still things I use daily. I hope that is encouraging to students!”

“A Given: Place” is the first exhibit in what will be an annual tradition of inviting Dordt alumni who work as artists to have an exhibit and reception that corresponds with Defender Days, Dordt’s alumni and parents weekend.

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. For six years in a row, Dordt has been named number one in the nation for student engagement by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers