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movers and shakers exhibit

TU to Host “Movers & Shakers” in Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Paintings by Artist Robert Vanitvelt

Artist Talk:
Wednesday, Osceola Theatre, Wednesday, January 22, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Opening Reception:
Diane Kidd Art Gallery, Wednesday, January 22, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Live Painting Session:
Gillmor Student Center, Wednesday, February 5, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

TIFFIN UNIVERSITY, Tiffin, OH—In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., TU’s Diane Kidd Gallery and the Diversity Celebrations Council will host Movers & Shakers, Paintings by artist Robert Vanitvelt.

TU’s Diversity Celebrations Council is a multidisciplinary committee that provides educational programming and celebrations by promoting a commitment to inclusive excellence. It is a sub-committee of the Expansion of Opportunity Council with a mission to foster inclusive excellence through Celebrating CulTUral Uniqueness in an environment that is welcoming, understanding of different perspectives, affirming, and safe for all populations.

Movers & Shakers will run from January 13 through February 12. Vanitvelt will give a talk in Osceola Theatre on Wednesday, January 22 starting at 5:00 pm. The opening reception of his paintings will immediately follow his talk from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the gallery. Light refreshments will be served, and the public is welcome.

Vanitvelt is a self-taught artist from Flint, Michigan. He currently resides in Perrysburg, Ohio and his work has traveled to several states, including, Ohio, Florida, and California. He enjoys sewing, baking, sculpting, cutting stencils, and painting. Nature and history are his inspiration and he prefers to paint on a larger scale because he feels it grabs the viewer’s attention and forces you look at it. Organizing everyday objects to portray an icon is important because it is everyday people, like this, who brought awareness and social change which changed history.

Vanitvelt created paintings depicting such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Rosa Parks; Harriet Tubman; Sojourner Truth; Frederick Douglass; Billie Holiday; Prince; Emmett Till; Mamie Till; former President Barack Obama; and former First Lady Michelle Obama. These Historical figures that are often overlooked, promoted change, equality, and freedom once they were organized. He painted the portraits of these historical figures while listening to his subjects’ actual interviews, speeches, music, and novels. He spent four years studying the well-known figures and used house paint on canvas drop clothes to create the portraits as a way to bring the community together.

“With the current temperature and tone I feel like a lot of that is fear-based, and we’re fearful of what we don’t know and what we don’t understand,” Vanitvelt said, “so I’m giving people an opportunity to see it, be moved by it and show people that symbols and words do have power.”

Vanitvelt hopes the paintings will help create awareness and spark conversation. Most of all, he hopes they help build bridges.

For more information about this event or subject matter, email Joseph Van Kerkhove at