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Students, faculty, and alumni to compete in ArtPrize 10

It’s early fall. For the city of Grand Rapids, this means transforming into an arts hub for ArtPrize. In its 10th edition, the event is the largest, independently organized arts competition in the world.

From September 19-October 7, artists and art enthusiasts alike display their creative work in a variety of venues and show the West Michigan and the world community why art matters. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts.

And the Department of  Visual and Media Arts is joining in as well. This year, some of these artists include Visual and Media Arts students, faculty and alumni. Here’s a compiled list:

Shannon Andrus (vote code: 68255)


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Studio Art alumna Shannon Andrus presents the work her students developed at Hearts For The Arts at the Mitten Brewing Company (527 Leonard Street NW.)

The 2D exhibit highlights artists with disabilities and their practice. “Our intention is to highlight artists who are passionate about the work they do, and create a caliber of art on par with their competitors,” says Dana Mate Dones, operations manager of Mitten Brewing Co. and board president of Mitten Foundation.

Rachel Britton (vote code: 67037)

Rachel Britton - Dysmorphia Series

Photography student Rachel Britton presents Dysmorphia at Grand Rapids City Hall (300 Monroe Ave NW Apt 4). About the work, Britton says:

Dysmorphia reflects the descent from reality into obsessive states of mind. Influenced by body dysmorphic disorder—the preoccupation with real or imagined flaws of the physical body that produces behaviors such as hair pulling, skin picking, and looking in mirrors often—I am fascinated with the overwhelming presence of the disorder in people’s lives. I distort reality through digital manipulation and lighting effects to reflect the mind in turmoil driven by these hidden and obsessive traits.

Jasmine Bruce (vote code: 67398)

Jasmine Bruce laying on the ground covered in artificial turf in front of a painted wall

Illustration alumna Jasmine Bruce presents One Kinetic Mind at the Pearl Street Burger King Parking Lot (410 Pearl Street NW).

One Kinetic Mind is a place separate from the exterior world that allows you to enter into a space of introspection. Subatomic and atomic elements are the driving force of this piece comparing the internal neurological universe to the external physical universe. One Kinetic Mind is inspired by 17 years of wondering and battling my existence. How did I get here? What is here? Who am I? Why do I exist? Like shattered through a mirror I kept looking down at myself and up at the universe. There is a tension between wanting to know and being okay with never knowing. In both scenarios you find anger and peace. Both are a form of rebirth and living. As you enter One Kinetic Mind observe, wonder, respond, question and keep searching. Participate in the Now. Battle constantly between the atomic and subatomic elements yet strive to simply exist in this space.

Kyle DeGroff (vote code: 67428)

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Graphic Design alum Kyle DeGroff presents Lions. Rabbits. Love at Lions & Rabbits (1264 Plainfield Ave NE.)

About the work, Kyle says: “This mural is about love in all its forms. Simple as that.”

Elyse Flynn (vote codes: 68614 – mural and 67840 – Installation)

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Graphic Design alumna Elyse Flynn led three other artists  in making Fiber by Evas’ve, a large-scale mural located at Stonesthrow (1428 Plainfield Ave NE.) This project is part of a larger initiative by the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts called UICA Outside. 

‘UICA Outside’ draws together diverse artists and Grand Rapids stakeholders to create permanent artworks that are energizing and accessible to all. ‘UICA Outside’ expands UICA’s impact city-wide and connects visitors to the vibrant neighborhoods that surround downtown Grand Rapids. Each neighborhood will feature one or more large-scale work created by artists who reside and engage within their respective community, or who have designed artworks with neighborhood input and a focus on representation and expression after meetings with neighborhood associations and business owners, as well as community members and local artists.

Elyse is also presenting this year A Language at Site:LAB (415 Franklin St SE.) by joining her fellow collaborators in Not Design. Not Design is a collaborative studio focusing on Letterpress, Education, Performance, and Installation (and Design) tactics and the intersections of these scenarios.

A Language is a collaborative Letterpress, Performative, Multimedia, Interactive installation.

Photo credit: Elyse Flynn – Facebook


Project Story Collective – Adrienne Young, Kaitlyn Smith, Jasmine Smith, Jacob Nuss, Rosa Maria Zamarron and Matt LaVere (vote code: 68341)


Photography Alumni Adrienne Young, Kaitlyn Smith, Jasmine Smith, Jacob Nuss, Rosa Maria Zamarron and Matt LaVere join Christopher Bain, Greg Ward, and Ritsu Katsumata in presenting Project Story 415: stories of high school | stories of struggle | stories yet to be made, at Site:LAB (415 Franklin St SE.) This is a participatory project, and they are looking for your story:

“The Project Story Art Collaborative wants to hear your story. Why? Because storytelling is an important tool to connect with people, understand needs, develop a common language, and create a dialogue. 415 Franklin has a rich history, from its roots as the Grand Rapids Christian High School to the Department of Health Services, to its current evolution into a church. PS415 invites you to share and listen to the stories inspired by this building. Whether you are an alum of the school, a former recipient of social services, or as a citizen with ideas for the future, we want to hear from you. Together, our stories can build and strengthen community connections. Together, we can create a world that listens to one another.”


Stafford Smith (vote code: 67289)

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Photography Professor Stafford Smith presents Red Portraits at Grand Rapids City Hall (300 Monroe Ave NW Apt 4). About the work, Smith says:

“These prints are alcohol transfers made from Fujifilm’s FP-100c instant film that I delayed peeling apart after exposure for up to a whole month. The chemical process, left unchecked, worked its magic distressing and eating away the images. You are looking at the ruins of photographs, intentionally done, so perhaps more like a Victorian folly than a classical ruin. This process draws attention to the surface of the photograph, that which is usually invisible. Neither mirror, nor window, these images push into the realm of faded memories, nostalgia and regret. They evoke and suggest rather than document and prove. And it is in their absence of information that their beauty lies. The surface artifacts, layers of color from the emulsion, act as both barriers and emotive signifiers. Their flame-like quality can suggest passion, hatred or lust, yet they also obscure information blocking our gaze and imparting a false modesty.”


Linnea Songer (vote code: 67069)

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Illustration alumna Linnea Songer presents All That Is Hidden at the Venue Tower Apartments (15 Ottawa Avenue NE). About the work, Songer says:

“Michigan is blessed with incredible natural beauty and resources. Vast diverse forests, sprawling sand dunes, and wetlands teeming with life all span across Michigan. Each environment plays their part in sustaining the life and health of those that live in it, including humans. By provoking curiosity the viewer is driven to search for what is hidden. The detailed environments growing on each goddess figure implores for a closer look. To realize that there is always more than meets the eye, and that even the small things hold their own importance. Perhaps next time you find yourself outside take a moment to look a little closer, stare a little longer; find the beautiful moments worth protecting. Delight in the discovery.”

Anthony Thompson (vote code: 67026)

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Photography Professor Anthony Thompson presents Reverse Alchemy at the Fountain Street Church (24 Fountain Street NE). About the work, Thompson says:

“Reverse Alchemy is a project in Photogravure, often integrating sculptural elements that I have created to be photographed. Alchemy was historically concerned with the transformation of base matter into something precious. The alchemy concept refers to my interest in this ongoing transformation of the photographic medium, as well as the transformation of matter that is itself the essence of art making and practice. The reverse aspect in the title alludes, albeit ironically, to what the work is ultimately about: the ways in which contemporary society/culture can sometimes transform the precious into the base — with devastating consequences — and the concurrent human struggle to resist that degradation.”

(UPDATE: Professor Thompson’s body of work is the recipient of the Social Action Committee Award, sponsored by the Fountain Street Church and ACLU. Congratulations!)

Jennifer Zona (vote code: 67891)

Ceramic green cat by Jennifer Zona

Ceramics alumna Jennifer Zona presents Crazy Cat Lady at the The Artist’s Studio (40 Monroe Center St NW Suite 102).

“My crazy cats are free standing ceramic sculptures, hand build with coils and fired in a electric kiln.”

The Department of Visual and Media Arts is very proud of the contributions its students, faculty and alum bring to the city of Grand Rapids — not only during ArtPrize. For instruction on how to vote, please visit the ArtPrize Website voting rules.



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