Dr. Henk Aay, who is a senior research fellow with the Van Raalte Institute at Hope College, will present the address “Chris Stoffel Overvoorde: History and Landscape Paintings of the Netherlands and America” on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 9:30 a.m. at the Holland Area Arts Council.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The lecture has been scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition “Seeing Through Dutch Eyes: Landscape Images of Chris Stoffel Overvoorde” at the Holland Area Arts Council, and is also among the events celebrating the institute’s 25th anniversary. The exhibition of scenic paintings opened on Friday, Jan. 11, and will continue through Monday, Feb. 25.
Overvoorde was born in Capelle aan de IJssel in the Netherlands to two Dutch parents and immigrated to the United States when he was 22. He completed the Visual Arts program at Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids and later attended the University of Michigan and received a BSD in 1964 and MFA in 1966. Also in 1966, he became a U.S. citizen and began teaching at Calvin College, where he served as an art professor for 31 years and as director of exhibitions for nearly 10.
As an artist, he has been active as a graphic designer, painter, printmaker and as a worship environmentalist. He received his first award in 1962 and has since received more than 30 awards. He has participated in more than 100 group, juried and invitational exhibitions throughout the Midwest, and has presented more than 50 solo exhibitions in the United States, Canada and The Netherlands.
In 2003 Eerdmans Publishing produced “Passing The Colors,” a book in which he recalls his journey as an immigrant, as a Christian and as an artist. In 2004 the Grand Rapids Art Museum installed a retrospective exhibit: “Chris Stoffel Overvoorde, A Life in Art.” His works are present in many public and private collections, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Muskegon Museum of Art.
Aay has been researching Dutch language and culture for more than 30 years. From 1982 until retiring in 2012, he taught at Calvin College, where he was a professor of geography and environmental studies. He was also the inaugural recipient, from 2006 until 2012, of the Frederik Meijer Chair in Dutch Language and Culture, with his activities including Dutch Heritage Month activities at Calvin each April for several years.
His engagement with Dutch history and culture has also included several sabbaticals conducting research at the University of Groningen and the Free University in Amsterdam; conducting research at the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg in 2011 through a Fulbright Scholarship; and leading multiple Calvin academic programs to the Netherlands. He has written numerous articles about Dutch and Dutch-American culture and history.
Aay was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to Canada with his family when he was 13. He graduated from Waterloo Lutheran University (now Wilfrid Laurier University) in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, with a bachelor’s degree in geography and planning in 1969, and completed his doctorate in geography at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1978.
He joined the Van Raalte Institute as a visiting research fellow in 2012 and became a senior research fellow in 2013.
Founded during the 1993-94 academic year, the Van Raalte Institute specializes in scholarly research and writing on immigration and the contributions of the Dutch and their descendants in the United States. The institute is also dedicated to the study of the history of all the people who have comprised the community of Holland throughout its history.
The institute’s anniversary events began with an open house at the college’s Theil Research Center on Tuesday, Nov. 27. In addition to the exhibition, events have included a presentation on the life and times of Mrs. Albertus (Christina) Van Raalte at Hope College’s Winter Happening on Saturday, Jan. 26, and a revival during the same weekend of Max Bush’s well-received play, “Vision of a New Life,” based on the writings of the Rev. A.C. Van Raalte, founder of Holland, Michigan, and co-founder of Hope College; on Saturday and Sunday. This spring will see the formal release of Provost Emeritus Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis’ monumental history, “Hope College at 150.”
The Holland Area Arts Council is open Mondays from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesdays-Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is closed on Sundays. The Holland Area Arts Council is located in downtown Holland at 150 E. Eighth St., between College and Columbia avenues.