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Aquinas Students, Faculty and Alumni Participate in ArtPrize 2011

In 2010, Aquinas alumnus and faculty member, Chris LaPorte ‘96, was announced the winner of ArtPrize, Grand Rapids’ wildly popular international art competition and exhibition. Bringing to greater public awareness Aquinas’ connection to the arts, it is important to note the work of many Aquinas students and faculty whose creativity and imaginations seek to inspire. With the approach of ArtPrize 2011, nine Aquinas students and faculty artists will participate in ArtPrize exhibitions.

Aquinas College’s connection to ArtPrize began three years ago when the Diocese of Grand Rapids brought in AQ Art Department Chair Ron Pederson, M.F.A, to serve as a consultant in the selection of sculptures to be exhibited. A success, the exhibition led to the establishment of the Diocese - specifically Cathedral Square - as a full-fledged ArtPrize site, which Pederson describes as “exhibiting at least 25 artists, providing computers to the public for ArtPrize registration purposes, running an ArtPrize store, and procuring the services of a professional curator.”

With Pederson as curator and Aquinas interns assisting with responsibilities, Cathedral Square initially housed the work of 32 artists, 13 of which were Aquinas students or faculty. Since that inception, Aquinas College has seen an increased connection to the yearly ArtPrize event. For ArtPrize 2011, which begins September 21 and ends October 9, Aquinas Admissions and Alumni Relations will work alongside the Grand Rapids Diocese in event scheduling and support. Pederson and his wife, Miriam Pederson, M.F.A., associate professor of English, will show a combination of sculpture and poetry known as Quartet, which combines four sculptures with a poem inspired by, among other things, family and music.

As in previous years, several friends of Aquinas will exhibit their art, yet Pederson emphasizes an important aspect of student participation: “It is from my standpoint not about students so much as about individual artists participating in a cool community event. Some of those artists happen to be students, but the impetus to participate is provided entirely by themselves - no professor is pushing student participation.”

Among those involved is recent Aquinas graduate and assistant curator for Cathedral Square, Allison Nix. Nix will have her object assemblage piece, Identity, on display. Nix describes the art project: “My assemblage style is based on the idea of turning the ordinary into something extraordinary. This may sound cliché. Yet for me, there is an underlying satisfaction in altering and transforming the identity of a recognized object. The objects in this piece will strip themselves from their man-made name/label, and in turn create a new visual identity as a group.”

“My newly found style of working has greatly been inspired by all of my art professors at Aquinas College," said Nix. "They have provided me with the tools, resources, wisdom, and inspiration that I need to create."

>Read More about AQ & ArtPrize and see which AQ artists are participating!

>September 23 - AQ + ArtPrize: Cathedral Square Gallery Opening

>October 7 - Fine Arts AQDay and ArtPrize!