Dennie Boxem is a Zwolle native

'Zwolle is in balance'

  • Reading time 5
  • 2212 x Views

Dennie Boxem is working with his little brother Robbie and a number of students on a work of art in the square of Talent City. This will have a green and sustainable character. Students will soon be able to charge their phones or laptops at the work. "This project symbolizes my work. I make art with a message and I prefer to make it together with others," the artist says as he takes a break from the project. In the schoolyard, Boxem talks about his work and his connection to Zwolle.

"I think everyone can see that the earth is not doing super well. Unless you have blinders on. I am concerned about the climate and that is also the main theme of my work. In the project at Talentstad we therefore use circular materials and pay attention to biodiversity. Also known is my work 'David Attenborough Let's Rewild the World: everyone who put a dot on that work received a plant for the garden. Within a few weeks, five hundred plants were gone. That's how we make the world greener together.


I think the beauty of a project like this is that you show people that they can still make an impact with something small. If we all take a small step, together we take a big step forward. Somehow that is the core of my work. Many of my artworks I make with groups, whether they are students or colleagues from a company. Team-Artsworks I call that. Such a work is then given a prominent place at school or in the office. And beautiful conversations often arise in the process.

Zwolle is in balance

Zwolle is my home town. It is always special when you can work there, but I also enjoy working in other cities. The great thing about Teams-Artwork is that it allows you to discover the character and mentality of an area. People in big cities are always somewhat reserved in groups. They stand up for themselves, without really showing themselves, while people from villages are much more open and participate right away. That's quite special to notice. People from Zwolle are in between. Apparently the city is balanced. I can also explain that: Zwolle is like a big village, but in a wonderful development into a real big people's city.

Lots of young artists

Zwolle offers a lot of opportunities in every field. Music, museums, theaters, restaurants, nature, actually you have everything here. There are also many good, young artists. They just don't have enough opportunities to show their work. That is a pity, because eventually they leave anyway. I used to feel that way myself: I thought I couldn't express my ambitions in Zwolle. Now I am committed to making the stage bigger. There are some good developments in that respect. For example, I notice that De Fundatie is also starting to play a role.

Own gallery

Two years ago I opened my own gallery in the Roggenstraat. Of course I am super proud of that. Also with the gallery I want to contribute to making art accessible. That's why I am consciously located in the center of Zwolle. People walk in very easily at this location. This way they come into contact with art in an accessible way and at the same time I can have positive conversations about the world and the climate. For example, I am currently working in the gallery on the Team-Artworks project whose proceeds go to the protection of Australian coral reefs."

Historic inner city

Zwolle, of course, has an amazing inner city. History and craftsmanship splash off on all sides. I also hear that from the tourists who come to the gallery. Germans, Belgians, Spaniards, Danes, Ukrainians and Russians. People come to Zwolle from all corners of the world. They are always impressed by the city. Especially because of the character of Zwolle and because it is not as busy here as in Amsterdam. Those stories also make you look at yourself with different eyes: Zwolle is just a very nice city."

The Top 3 of Dennie Boxem

  • I was born in Berkum. Almost my entire family lives there. It's a great neighborhood to grow up in. A bit of a village in itself and yet close to the city. My little brother is the only one who doesn't live in Berkum. He lives in Stuttgart, Germany. That's why I like the fact that I could make the artwork at Talentstad together with him.
  • I think Kranenburg Cemetery is a very special place in Zwolle. Everything there is old. The place is also beautifully landscaped. Also because of the greenery and those beautiful, old trees I like to walk around there.
  • My own gallery is of course also a favorite place. A dream that has come true. The best part is that I can show people there that they can still make a difference with something small.

How would you rate this article?