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2021 Visual Arts Nominees

A bound book with four bananas of various colors on the cover
“Going Bananas” (Photography)
Regan VanderWall, Artios of Grand Haven

This book was the creation of a semester long project exploring the many ways you can photograph a single topic. I chose the theme of fruit. Each week included a different material or technique that had to be used while still photographing your selected subject. This was able to give the final piece a diverse yet unified look which is showcased throughout my piece.
A short, wide clay pot with an orange-brown interior and blue mottled exterior.
“Hand Rolled Coil Pottery” (Clay)
Aiden Vela, Fruitport High School

I created this coil pot from hand rolled coils that I spent a ton of time blending. Forming this complex out and back in vase shape was challenging. To get it symmetrical I used a paddle and rib tool to scrape the surface to even it out. Before firing the surface was burnished with a metal spoon. I am most proud of how the surface turned out- I think it is hard to tell that I used coils.
A black and white ink drawing of a Japanese-looking house.
“Linear Perspective Architectural Drawing (Japanese Dwelling)” (Marker)
Brooke Johnson, Grand Haven High School

I have taken a variety of art classes, including Art and Design, Ceramics, Jewelry and Drawing. In this ink study, Linear Perspective Architectural Drawing (Japanese Dwelling), I used parallel lines and cross hatching to show the value structure of the wood on the house and scumbling to create the trees, plants, and woodchips. I wanted my artwork to be clean with clear structure, and I took my time to achieve that.
Paper Mache head with colorful flowers for hair, rainbow cheeks, and what appears to be blood dripping from the nose and eyebrow.
“Hopeless Pride” (Paper Mache & Acrylic)
Keelie Fidler, Hart High School

I decided to make my project to bring awareness to harassment against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
A sad clown in a funhouse mirror room. All of the reflections are smiling.
“Jingles the Jester” (Acrylic on Mirror)
Abby Wisniewski, Holton High School
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Jingles the Jester! Lost in a maze of mirrors, Jingles faces himself in a new light. As the fluorescent LED lights close in on him, he must face his own worst enemy… himself.
An abstract lookiing paining. Primary colors are blue on the left and yellow on the right.
“The Storm Inside” (Acrylic)
Astrid Lundström, Mason County Eastern High School

We were reading about Helen Frankenthaler and how she painted on the floor. We couldn’t do it inside so we went out on the grass. We got told to just express ourselves. So I started putting paint on and the farther I got the more creative I got. I started with a small brush then ended up with a bigger one at the end I was using my hands and a knife to put the paint on. In the end, I got the idea to use the grass to paint so I put a lot of paint on my canvas and turn it on the grass, and proceeded at jumping on it so it got a different texture and some grass in it. I kept that process going like that.
A young man looks at the viewer. He has long brown hair, glasses, and a goatee. In the background are virus particles.
“Self Portrait on Canvas #1” (Acrylic)
Teegan Day, Montague High School

Art is a reflection of how its creator sees the world. This self portrait encapsulates my view of the world over the past year. Where the effects of the pandemic are in the background of everything.
An album cover for Calvin Harris has clouds, a tree, and grass in white silhouettes and a narrowing purple circle suggests depth.
“Calvin Harris Album Artwork” (Digital Art)
JaBria Thomas, Muskegon Heights Public School Academy

I really like my art, I try to capture the poses and the essence of it. Drawing is like my comfort it’s a hobby I enjoy the most and it makes me feel calm.
A young woman with red skin, green eyes, and blue hair is surrounded by various symbols.
“Unfiltered Chaos” (Mixed Media)
Jade Velazquez, North Muskegon High School

My work entails the struggle between the inner emotions and what I show people. I wanted to capture the beauty of the unshown emotions. On the left side of my painting, I tried to keep it as perfect as I could—at least as perfect as any human can. On the left is what I show people, the perfectionist. On the right side, I tried to show the anger, frustration, sadness, and other emotions that I struggle to understand. In the piece, there is an eye on the right side, and I tried to paint around it using black. I messed up the line art and got upset, so I scribbled on that side of the piece while shedding some tears. I ended up taking a two-day break from my piece. Once I got back to the painting, I used scribbles representing the frustrations of trying to be perfect and not show any negative emotions. The being in the middle I painted is me, but as we all know, anyone can be in that situation, the fight between the person you are underneath and the person you choose to show people. As humans, we need to speak up and not hide our true selves in fear of what others might think.
A young african american woman stares a the viewer with her hands gently touching the sides of her face.
“Fresh” (Acrylic)
Destyni Lane, Oakridge High School

In this artwork I focused on portraying natural beauty. In society today we tend to compare ourselves to “ideal” images. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, natural beauty is the best beauty.
Twenty bottles with flowers are arranged on a wooden shelf with photos inside each bottle
“Pictures in Recycled Bottles” (Mixed Media)
Haley Powers, Pentwater High School

This project uses recycled Starbucks bottles and crepe paper flowers for a different way of displaying photography. I did this using a lot of pictures I have taken using either an iPhone or a camera. I used crepe paper that was donated to our school and wire that I repurposed from other people’s past projects to create flowers to add interest to the piece.
A series of three paintings show a woman in three stages. One has only nerves and a spiral of skin. The second has a skeleton, and the final one has a fully-formed body without limbs.
“The Journey of Self-Love” (Acrylic)
Lea Seifert, Reeths-Puffer High School

My pieces are meant to capture the journey of self-love. Starting at a place of negativity and self hatred, one may feel fragmented while their spirt is trapped by the cage of emptiness within them. Moving onto a state of neutrality, a person does not necessarily love themself or hate themselves; they simply see their body as a vessel for the soul. In the last stage of self-love, a person has positive feelings towards themselves and have become whole which allows the spirit to be fully embraced.
A Manji (swastika) symbol has been covered with metallic tape that says "Sorry this message has been censored to your own preconceptions. Your hatred is a mirror."
“Unity” (Mixed Media)
Hopper Miller, Spring Lake High School

Understanding before judgement. Was that your reaction? Were you inclined to understand or judge first? I fear that as humans we are more prone to judgement as a default and don’t make enough room for understanding. Gaining knowledge instigates empathy, compassion and a more holistic, productive view of the world around us. I’ve chosen the manji (swastika) symbol to use in this piece because in Buddhist traditions it’s a symbol for peace, prosperity and unity. However, in other contexts it’s viewed as a symbol of hate and antisemitism. I was struck by this realization on a recent trip to Thailand. The symbol was a common place, no different from a Christian cross. I hope this work challenges viewers to see things from a different perspective and maybe try and understand before passing judgement.
Painting of a waterfall over rocks into a pond surrounded by yellow grass and a tree.
“Where the Water Falls” (Acrylic)
Makenna Russell, Whitehall High School

In my art piece, I created a simple waterfall by using a unique technique. My process for this piece was by using acrylic paint but only focusing on two contrasting colors, which in this painting it were blue, and orange. My process also included creating this piece using only a pallet knife, which gave the painting a different texture and detail. The colors being opposites work together to capture the beauty in nature from a different perspective than what we’re used to.
A dream catcher made of stained glass in various shades of blue
“Dream” (Glass and Ceramic)
Valeria Castro, Fremont High School
When looking at a dream catcher people focus on the initial beauty, but forget there is a deeper meaning. My inspiration for this piece was my English teacher, and I wanted to create piece that represented her and the person she is. A dream catcher was the perfect choice because it symbolizes peace, hope, belief, and eternity. While creating this piece I specifically chose the color blue for two reasons (1) blue give a sense of peace and hope which reminds me of my English teacher (2) it also represents nighttime which is when a dream catcher is used. I learned that ever piece of artwork has a deeper meaning than what is seen on the outside.
Pencil drawing of a young woman in a cable knit sweater and necklace
“Glimpse of Me” (Pencil)
Liberty Malone, Grant High School

This piece was really enjoyable for me. I wanted to see how much detail I could put into a drawing. I found the most detailed sweater I had and took a picture of myself wearing it. It was a long process, but I enjoyed it. I made sure to make the texture in the sweater clear in the way it was woven. After quite a few hours of insanity, it became my favorite piece.
A black man staring with bees covering his face
“Bees” (Watercolor & Graphite)
Katelyn Lotz, Hesperia High School

I made this piece using watercolor paints and graphite pencils. The picture I used inspired me because the obscurity of the bees being on the man’s face was appealing. I chose to do the bees in color because I want the viewer to focus on the fear being faced. I also chose to do a man of color because recent events have been taken to help bring equality among races and I think that this art piece shows my support.
A person leans against a sick, staring at the viewer. A black bar covers their eyes. Colors are muted.
“Refugee” (Mixed Media)
Jessica Martin, Mona Shores High School

When creating my Mixed Media Social Issues artwork, my goal was to express the issues refugees face as much as possible. I did so by blacking out the faces of my figues to hide their identity because refugees are often forgotten. I also wanted to picture the mood of sadness and despair they face for any reason they needed to abandon their homes such as their political or religious beliefs, ethnicity, war, or natural disasters.
Magazine and newspaper cutouts and a pencil drawing form the base of the Amazon building in downtown Muskegon.
“On Western” (Mixed Media)
Soli Gordon, Muskegon Catholic Central High School

First I had to take a photo of the Amazon building in down town Muskegon. Then I edited the photo before I printed it out as a 16×20 poster. I cut the building out and stuck the photo onto the canvas. Then I began to stitch with neutral brown thread onto the canvas. I stitched the building outline, then windows, bricks, and window panes. Finally, I drew with pencils the right side of the Amazon building onto the canvas.
Painting of a oung person falling asleep in front of a laptop in their kitchen/. A mechanical pencil is in their hand, ready to take notes.
“3AM” (Gouache)
Evelyn Garcia, Muskegon High School

I wanted to show how many students including me have had a hard time adjusting to online learning with the start of covid and all. I would spend most of my nights trying to catch up on piles of assignments and would occasionally fall asleep. It’s even more difficult to catch up in classes since the number assignments just seem to grow as the days go by.
A yellow figure with a red bandana covering their mouth and a chain surrounding their head like a halo has red tears streaming from their eyes.
“La Resistencia” (Mixed Media)
Flor Quiñones, OAISD Careerline Tech Center

The piece in commemoration of the youth fallen by the oppressive persecution in Venezuela in 2014. The work and technique imitate the use given to spray paint during the protests, it was the strongest medium of expression, used to trace symbols and names of people fallen on the streets.
A three dimensional T-Rex head pops out of the foliage in this background.
“T-rex” (Paper mache)
River Creed, Orchard View High School

I created this dinosaur using multiple mediums. The first layer consists of cardboard and tin foil. Then, I added 3 layers of paper mache. Then, I made and glued on close to 2,500 hot glue scales. Finally, I painted.
A painting of ducks in a pond appears in a duck-shaped recess into a wooden board that has been burned.
“Autumn’s Eye” (Wood & Acrylic)
Autumn Morton, Ravenna High School

I really enjoyed making this art project and I put a lot of work into it. Over eight weeks I created this piece, I first started by tracing out my duck on a piece of wood, and little by little I used a wood dremal to carve it out. I then sanded it down, burned the wood, stained the wood, and added many layers of paint making my mallard duck landscape in the inside. I chose to make this with a duck because it reminds me of something that relaxes me and makes me happy, duck hunting just distracts me from everything just like art. I had a lot of fun making this, it let me try new things and represent a fun hobby while pursuing my love of art at the same time.
A young woman with pigtails sits in a chair, smiling at the viewer.
“Erika Guerrero” (Graphite)
Esmeralda Guerrero, Shelby High School

The portrait in this picture is of my little sister Erika Guerrero. I made this art because Erika is very dear to me and will always hold a special place in my heart. She is someone that has encouraged me to accomplish the things that I dream of fulfilling.
A young woman in a red dress and black boots looks at the viewer while seated on top of a young child's plastic slide.
“The Duality of Man” (Acrylic)
Lydia Geigle, White Cloud High School

The inspiration for this was to show that though I’m getting older, I refuse to be an adult. That’s overdone, but I thought it would be funny, and now it’s just too powerful. My main goal for art is to confuse and frighten the audience, bestowing upon them a emotional experience unmatched by any other event.