The Division of Art + Design is hosting an exhibit of artwork by the late Darell Koons, alumnus and former art faculty member of Bob Jones University.
The exhibit will be open in the Sargent Art Exhibition Hall until Oct. 2 on weekdays from 7:50 a.m. to 10:20 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 10:20 p.m. It features artwork from the collections of Koons’ son Mark Koons and daughter Shery Koons Borenstein.
Several pieces are available for purchase, and the Koons family is donating a portion of the proceeds to the BJU Division of Art + Design. Prints, etchings, lithographs and puzzles of his artwork are also available for a limited time in the Bruins Shop in The Den, with a portion of the proceeds being donated as well.
John Nolan, a faculty member in the Division of Art + Design and curator of the exhibit, said Koons was one of three art educators who were foundational to the art department at BJU. The Koons exhibit is the first in a series of exhibitions called the Legacy Series. “It’s featuring former faculty members in the Art + Design division,” Nolan said.
Nolan said the exhibit is arranged in roughly chronological order. At the beginning is “Yosemite National Park,” one of Koons’ earliest works, completed when he was in middle school. The most recent of the paintings are from 2014. “It really does show the evolution of his styles over the years,” Nolan said.
The exhibit includes paintings done in oil, watercolor and acrylic, as well as engravings and serigraphs. Nolan said the exhibit shows Koons’ range and desire to use more than one medium.
Jay Bopp, chair of the Division of Art + Design, said Koons had a strong sense of composition in his art. “You see a lot of barns and farm-type structures in his paintings because he was obviously very familiar with that,” Bopp said. “You also see in the work some more abstract or non-objective pieces.”
Bopp said Koons was a product of the modernist era in art, giving his work a unique, haunting emptiness. “[His work] is not really super-duper nostalgic or sentimental,” Bopp said. “I think it’s interesting that there [are] no people in any of his work.”
Koons’ daughter, Shery Borenstein, said her family is honored by the exhibit. “We loved how [the exhibition committee] worked with us to make the exhibit one that showed the transformation and skill our dad’s art revealed as he ‘matured’ in his artistic style,” Borenstein said.
Borenstein said the use of art for giving the Gospel was something that impacted her, her siblings, and many other people. Koons used chalk artwork for over 50 years to minister to churches, schools, and orphanages around the world. He also taught students to minister using chalk artwork.
Borenstein said she was holding her father’s hand as he passed away. “With a steady motion, he began to take his right hand as though holding a paintbrush and moved it toward his left hand where he dipped the brush into what in his mind was likely a small jar of paint,” Borenstein said. “He then proceeded to paint something I could not see but cannot wait to see with my own eyes. I’m sure [he] was painting a picture of Heaven!” Borenstein said Koons wished to share the good news of Heaven more than anything else.
Koons grew up on a farm in rural Michigan before attending BJU. He received a bachelor’s degree in art education from BJU and an M.A. from Western Michigan University. After receiving his M.A., Koons returned to BJU and taught for 45 years. He died June 28, 2016, at age 91.