KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Strolling between rows of work and sketches sprawled out by way of a number of galleries in Western Michigan College’s Richmond Middle for Visible Arts, John Kollig sees his life on paper. A visible depiction of his improvement as an artist, among the work dates again to the Nineteen Seventies.
“I have not seen any of this in years!” says Kollig, a Western alumnus and former teacher and advisor within the College’s Frostic College of Artwork. “I am simply so stunned to see a few of it. It brings again reminiscences; it is actually wonderful.”
Kollig gave the gathering—basically his life’s work—to former pupil Christopher Darling 4 years in the past when he moved out of his home and by no means anticipated to see it once more. Nevertheless, after Darling died unexpectedly, he wanted to discover a new house for the greater than 200 work and drawings.
In a second of serendipity, Kollig linked with Dr. Indra Lācis, director of exhibitions on the Richmond Middle. She’d been working remotely from Cleveland and simply occurred to be staying blocks from the house the place the gathering was situated.
“The work is unimaginable,” says Lācis, who excitedly set the ball in movement with Dan Guyette, dean of the Faculty of Fantastic Arts, and the College Artwork Assortment Committee to just accept the appreciable reward. “It is a very beneficiant donation.”
Kollig’s physique of labor is various, starting from portraits and landscapes impressed by his travels to summary artwork. By means of all of it, you possibly can see an object tying a lot of his work collectively: the sphere.
“It is (unconsciously) threaded by way of my work through the years, and it wasn’t till I used to be in graduate faculty that it lastly actually woke up,” says Kollig, who earned a Grasp of Fantastic Arts from Western in 1996. The sphere is featured prominently in “The Journey Begins,” the primary portray in a sequence he made for his portfolio.
Artwork was a second profession for Kollig, who spent a long time within the company world as a visible merchandiser for shops like Hudson’s and Jacobson’s.
“I am principally a late bloomer. I used to be 47 years outdated once I determined to get my MFA diploma,” he says. “And from that platform, I have been portray virtually day-after-day ever since.”
Kollig labored part-time as an advisor within the Frostic College of Artwork for greater than 11 years, additionally instructing a variety of drawing and portray courses as an adjunct teacher.
“I actually love the scholars,” he says. “I’ve all the time loved heading a classroom. It is actually true, you be taught from the scholars rather a lot.”
Now, with the donation of his works to the College artwork assortment, he’ll as soon as once more have a chance to affect aspiring artists at Western.
“Not solely is it thrilling as a result of we’re going to have the ability to place a sequence of those works all through campus for the group to take pleasure in, nevertheless it’s a residing assortment,” Lācis says. “Academically, it is also fascinating for our portray college students to see the event of a whole profession (that continues now) and create alternatives for John to have the ability to are available in and discuss concerning the work. We undoubtedly wish to plan a full-scale future exhibition displaying as a lot of the gathering as we’re in a position to current in our area.”
Kollig has been working alongside current Western portray alumna Rozlin Opolka, who’s main the hassle to stock his assortment. She estimates the challenge will take a whole bunch of hours to finish.
“Most of those items are in nice form, however there are some which are older. And with age comes put on and tear that we actually must doc,” says Opolka. She gained worthwhile gallery expertise as a pupil in early 2020, cataloging a group of dozens of paintings by former WMU professor Dwayne Lowder, whose work was found hidden away in his attic after his dying.
“I am very excited (to work on the Kollig assortment) as a result of I’ve discovered totally different types of cataloging,” Opolka says. “That is additionally a fantastic studying assortment as a result of it isn’t usually now we have entry like this for college students to see how all the artwork developed over time.”
“I am actually delighted that (the work) have a house and college students can expertise and be taught from them,” provides Kollig. “I actually suppose artists be taught you solely have custody (of your work); I by no means actually owned it anyway. There’s this sense of giving … whether or not you are a musician or dancer, no matter artistic endeavor.”
Kollig’s work can be featured alongside works by the artwork faculty’s namesake, celebrated printmaker and trailblazing entrepreneur Gwen Frostic, and Colorado-based artist Mel Strawn, chair of Western’s artwork division from 1985-88, within the upcoming exhibition “Recent Gifts: Selections from the University Art Collection.” The present runs from Monday, March 1, to Sunday, Might 2, within the Richmond Center’s Rose Netzorg and James Wilfrid Kerr Gallery.
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