Faculty Biennial exhibition opens at DeVos Art Museum


Jackie Phillips/NW

FACULTY BIENNIAL — DeVos Art Museum hosts gallery of works by NMU Art and Design department faculty. The display can be viewed until March 31 during the gallery’s hours, Mondays-Wednesdays 12-5 p.m., Thursdays 12-8 p.m. and Fridays 12-5 p.m.

Jackie Phillips

The DeVos Art Museum is hosting the Faculty Biennial from now until March 31, featuring the works of 17 different NMU art and design faculty members. 

Every two years Emily Lanctot, DeVos Museum director and curator, invites the art and design faculty to submit their work for the biennial. The exhibit serves as a way to highlight the work that the faculty is doing or has already done outside of the classroom so that both the community and students can view it.

Showing the works of the faculty helps to show students the methodology behind the work and what motivates the faculty in their classrooms, Lanctot said.

“There are all these connections between our lives and their lives, the faculty’s as educators, as researchers and then as artists,” Lanctot said. “[The exhibition] sort of highlights the stuff that maybe students don’t see in the classroom all the time.”

When curating exhibitions, Lanctot usually does research for one to two years before each show in order to establish a relationship with the artist in order to properly tell the story of their art narrates. For exhibitions featuring works from the museum’s permanent collection, the museum staff works to select different pieces of different medias that work thematically in order to tell a story.

For the biennial, however, Lanctot acts more as an organizer than a curator. The faculty is in charge of what they choose to put on display and Lanctot installs it. 

The exhibit features sculptures, woodworkings, paintings, drawings and photographs created by the faculty. Each faculty member has the option to choose what they want to put on display. 

Photography professor Nathan Bett submitted a four part series titled “Learning to Disappear” that he made while he was living in New York. The series was a part of his graduate school thesis. Since moving to Hancock, Michigan a few years back, Bett has mostly been doing nature and landscape photography. 

Given the area the DeVos Art Museum is located, it is easy for nature photography to get lost due to the commonality of it, Bett said. 

“I thought showing something from a different place, from a different culture, would just be maybe kind of refreshing in this environment,” Bett said. “I think [the series] would stand out a bit in this environment.”

Bett encourages students to both attend exhibits such as the biennial and by submitting their own art to the Students’ Art Gallery, NMU’s student-run gallery located in the Lydia M. Olson Library. 

“Submit work to the Student Art Gallery when there’s open calls,” Bett said. “Support your local art scene by going to shows and supporting local artists.”

The DeVos is currently holding two other exhibitions along with the faculty biennial. One exhibition features work from the museum’s permanent collection that are works showing snow entitled “Snow Drift,” while the other features works new to the collection from 2020 to 2022. 

The DeVos is open and free to the public Mondays through Wednesdays from 12-5 p.m., Thursdays 12-8 p.m. and Fridays 12-5 p.m.