/ Kruizenga Art Museum


Currently on display 

Living Tradition: Contemporary Ethiopian christian art from the sobania collection

September 21–December 15

Jesus and His Apostles Went Up the Mountain

Living Tradition explores the beliefs and practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as they are reflected in contemporary paintings, icons, liturgical objects and other works of art.

The 67 artworks in the exhibition were collected and donated to the Kruizenga Art Museum by Dr. Neal Sobania, a Hope alumnus from the Class of 1968 who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia and later went on to make Eastern Africa the focus of his academic career. The exhibition will continue through Saturday, Dec. 15.

Located in the Horn of Africa on the eastern side of the continent, Ethiopia is home to a vibrant Christian culture dating back to the early fourth century CE, long before the arrival of any missionaries from Europe or America,” said exhibition curator Charles Mason, who is the director of the Kruizenga Art Museum as well as the Margaret Feldmann Kruizenga Curator of the museum. “Many Westerners whose knowledge of Ethiopia has been shaped primarily by images of famine, war, and long-distance runners winning races are surprised to learn that Ethiopia possesses a rich tradition of Christian art that has been integral to the life of the church in that country for nearly 17 centuries. This ancient tradition of Christian art continues to exert a powerful influence in Ethiopia today and is reflected in many of the artworks included in this exhibition.”

The artworks featured in the exhibition were collected and donated by Neal Sobania and his wife, Elizabeth, of Lakewood, Washington. After graduating from Hope College in 1968, Neal Sobania joined the Peace Corps and served for four years in Ethiopia. A few years later he lived and worked in Kenya doing graduate research and working for the United Nations Environmental Program. He continued to develop his interest in those countries during and after graduate school and has made Eastern Africa the focus of his academic career for more than fifty years. 

Admission to both lectures, the reception and the exhibition is free, and all are welcome. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated digital catalog that can be downloaded free of charge from the Kruizenga Museum website as soon as the exhibition opens.

Image: "Jesus and His Apostles Went Up the Mountain" (detail) by Qes Adamu Tesfaw

As a teaching museum, the Kruizenga Art Museum strives to be a center for curiosity, inspiration and cultural exploration. By displaying artworks from a wide range of cultures and historical periods, the museum aims to foster the qualities of empathy, tolerance and understanding in all of our visitors.

Thanks to the generosity of our patrons, the Kruizenga Museum’s collection is constantly growing. In an increasingly diverse and global age, it is important for the Kruizenga to collect and exhibit images and objects that can help tell as many different stories as possible. The Kruizenga Museum collection reflects patterns of cross-cultural exchange that in some cases are centuries old and yet continue to shape our world today. We welcome you to explore this exhibition with an open mind. The exhibition was not designed to be seen in a certain sequence and we encourage you to draw your own connections between the artworks. If you have any comments or questions about the exhibition or the Kruizenga Museum collection, please contact a museum staff member. Learn about past exhibitions 


The Kruizenga Art Museum galleries are typically installed with a mix of temporary exhibitions and permanent collection displays. These exhibitions and displays are planned to complement course offerings in the college’s academic curriculum and usually change, partially or completely, at the beginning of each semester.

The museum’s exhibitions are further augmented by lectures, artist demonstrations, film series, musical concerts, dance and theater performances and other relevant educational programs. An endowment gift from Holland residents Dave and Jane Armstrong provides funding for at least one exhibition-related lecture every year, while other programs are made possible through annual gifts and campus partnerships.