GRPS students who participate in after school arts and tech program at West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology (WMCAT) use ArtPrize 10 to advance communication about issues that matter to them

Twenty-three teen students from Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) who participate in the nationally-recognized Teen Arts + Tech Program through the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology (WMCAT) have found a platform in ArtPrize 10 to share their powerful art and voices. Various art mediums were engaged by WMCAT students; each one accompanied by a message that allows ArtPrize attendees to experience issues that matter to teens in Grand Rapids.

“We are thrilled to support Grand Rapids’ teens from our program in sharing the influential stories and issues that matter to them,” shared Trudy Ngo-Brown, Director of Creative Programs at WMCAT. “Students are already talking about issues happening locally and globally and we are proud to work with them and collaborative partners as they use various mediums to deepen conversations towards change.”

The 23 WMCAT teen artists represent six different high schools from within the GRPS district and are participating in ArtPrize this year through film, acrylic on canvas painting and essays in conjunction with photography. Each piece tells an authentic story that pushes boundaries in order to advance conversations on relevant social issues.

The three ArtPrize 10 pieces include:

Official Entry #68845: “City Stories: Reflections is a collection of three films that showcase neighborhoods as reflected through the eyes of the teens that live within them. The project was created through a collaboration between WMCAT and Mosaic Film Experience. All films were created, filmed and edited by five GRPS students.

“A Southside Journey” was created by Mariah Barrera (Writer/Director/Editor) and Dagan McClure-Sikkema (Co-Producer).

“We are Westside” was created by Dagan McClure-Sikkema and Arieal Jackson.

“The Acceptance of Mixed Families” was created by Erion Adams (Writer/Director) and Micah Garmon.

Official Entry #68817: “…And Food Justice for All is an acrylic on canvas painting 6 ft. high by 4 ft. wide and created by teens through WMCAT’s summer program, called Idea Lab, which provides project-based learning experiences. This year, WMCAT teens worked with Kids’ Food Basket and learned about how food can be used as a catalyst to build healthier, more engaged communities. Teens also explored issues related to food access, food security and nutrition. The piece integrates Kids’ Food Basket’s mission to attack childhood hunger and will have a permanent home in its new, future headquarters in 2019. A total of eleven GRPS student participated in the making of the painting.

Curated by SiTE:LAB: “Our Journey Home: Immigration Stories shares essays and corresponding photography of individuals and families describing their experience of immigrating to the United States. Inspired by how policies have impacted the Grand Rapids immigrant community, teen artists from WMCAT sought out stories describing experiences related to being an immigrant in this country. A total of seven GRPS students shared their work for the exhibition.

GRPS students have been attending WMCAT’s nationally-recognized program since 2005. This unique partnership offers enhanced arts and technology experiences for GRPS high school students throughout the school year and in the summer months.

“Our students have incredible skills that will change this world,” shared Maggie Malone, M.Ed. Director of Fine Arts at GRPS. “And our long-term partnership with WMCAT produces an avenue for our students to experience quality out-of-school opportunities to hone those skills, all while continuously advancing the district’s strategic plan. The students’ ArtPrize entries with WMCAT provide an example of how a great partnership can impact an individual student, a community as a whole and even beyond a single community.”