The State of the Arts in Holland: the Roles of Art and Identity in Community

Student Author(s)

Ellen Messner
Hannah Pikaart

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Curtis Gruenler and Professor Alex Galarza

Document Type


Event Date



Identity is something that we all possess. Forming an identity allows us to both relate to and distinguish ourselves from others. Ultimately, an identity is what unites a community. But by creating identities, we naturally build boundaries. In contrast, art seeks to push or break them. While identity can change to accommodate new ideas, to what extent can identity change without losing itself in the process? Likewise, art can exist within the boundaries of identity, but at what point is the ability of expression repressed? How can we find middle ground? Hope College has created an identity that sets itself apart from other institutions. One of Hope College’s most defining characteristics is its Christian faith, which can be traced back to the college’s origins. Hope College has also cultivated a strong arts community. By observing the departments of music, theater, and art, we will observe the relationship between the identity of Hope College and its arts community. Is Hope College a place where identity and art are at odds? Or perhaps it is the middle ground where identity and art can coexist and thrive.

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