In September, Rockford Christian School (RCS) junior high students spent an entire day visiting various ArtPrize exhibits along with over 1,500 other Grand Rapids area students. The RCS teens had the opportunity to converse with several artists and learn about their motivation and creations. One artist in particular, Jason Hackenwerth, really inspired the teens.
RCS art teacher, Kelly Tuit, said, “Jason really engaged with the kids.”
Hackenwerth’s art exhibit was a 10-foot balloon creature, which demonstrated to the teenagers that art isn’t just about oil paintings or sculptures.
The students were also invited to talk to another artist, Rob Jackson, whose exhibit was a 50-foot homage to the end of the recession, titled “Wall and Main.”
“The kids learned that art is about the experience,” said Tuit. According to Tuit, the field trip changed many of the teens’ perception of art.
After the insightful field trip, the students returned to school and were given some guidelines for the RCS ArtProject competition. They were told their art had to either reflect the student or had to convey some kind of current social issue. The other guidelines were the inclusion of a “venue” which for the purpose of the competition was a shoebox, and providing an artist’s “work statement” which summarizes the art’s intent.
“The students really enjoyed discussing whether an artist should be true to their self or create something that resonates with popular opinion,” said Tuit.
After the guidelines were conveyed, the seventh- and eighth-grade students began enthusiastically working on their projects.
“What the students have created so far is truly amazing and creative”, said Tuit.
Countless colorful in-progress masterpieces line the art room’s walls and storage spaces. Some of the ArtProject contenders are intricately constructed using various materials while others convey a powerful message about current events. It’s evident that many students were inspired by what they saw during their field trip to the Grand Rapids ArtPrize.
The RCS student body is voting on the anonymous RCS ArtProjects in mid-October and various prizes will be awarded to the artists with the most votes. The biggest winners, of course, are the junior high students at RCS. Their minds have been stretched as they contemplated their various masterpieces and how they will impact the world around them.