Artworks new geology exhibit creates ‘lab atmosphere’

Robert G. Mull

BIG RAPIDS – Artwork’s new exhibit, “Geology Rocks!” explores stones and geologic formations through photography. The exhibit’s images tell the history of the earth through rocks, making connections to Michigan along the way.

The exhibit is open now through Aug. 26 in the Batdorff Gallery.

The gallery features the photography of Stephen ross and his work “Lithoscapes: The Abstract Art of Rock,” sculptures by Autumn Bildson, and drawings by Julie Tyslicky. Special Brown Bag Lunch events include “Earth History as Told by Rocks” with geologist Fred Heck on Aug. 20.

Roxanne Cullen, volunteer exhibit coordinator with Artworks, said the exhibit will be a unique opportunity to learn about Michigan history through geology.

“The idea for the exhibit grew out of the photography of Stephen Ross who is a longtime Artworks supporter, an artist, former board chair, and former about every job in artworks including keeping track of the upkeep on the building,” Cullen said. “He wanted to do a show with his photographs of the upper peninsula rock formations. His portion of the show is a series of beautiful photographs that look like abstract paintings, but they also illustrate the earth history and follow a timeline.”

“We thought it would be nice to show some various artists’ work that are influenced by rocks, so of course that meant including a sculptor who works in stone as a medium, Autumn Bildson, who some may remember from Festival of the Arts a few years back,” she added. “And we also included an artist who creates pictures of rocks in colored pencil, Julie Tyslicky.”

The goal of the show is to explore the wonders of rocks. Along with the art in the show is a lot of Earth Science and information about Geology.

Cullen said the mix of media, art, and information provides a unique experience for attendees.

“We have tried to create an atmosphere in this exhibit that feels like a Geology lab,” Cullen said. “There are lots of rocks on display along with the art and we have a microscope set up to look at rock crystals and a box with UV light to look at minerals. It truly is a blending of Arts and Science.”

During the event on Aug. 20 at noon, Fred Heck, emeritus professor of Geology at Ferris State University will give a talk about the work of geologists and how rocks reveal the history before humans were part of the equation.

On July 15, there will also be an opportunity for attendees to meet the artists to learn more about their work and ask questions while enjoying the exhibit.

Cullen said the hope is that people can gain knowledge about geology, Michigan history, and art as they explore the exhibit.

“We hope that people will come away from the show wanting to learn more,” Cullen said. “It’s a great opportunity, and we hope people will come to expand their learning.”

To learn more about Artworks, the Geology Rocks! exhibit, upcoming exhibits, and events visit the Artworks website at

You can also reach out to Artworks through email at [email protected], and via phone at 231-796-2420.

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