“Growing up,” a bathroom scene drawn by Grand Rapids Community College student Lauren Clark has proven itself to be much more than the average class assignment. Having been submitted by her professor, visual arts department head Nick Antonakis, it is what lead her to become this year’s first place winner in the Liberal Arts Network for Development (LAND) student scholar competition.
“It didn’t have meaning when I made it to be honest because he suggested projects we had to do. The assignment (I chose) was to put a bunch of random things in a bathroom (and paint them), ” said Clark, 22, collaborative design/illustration major.
It wasn’t until she began drawing that Lauren realized just how much the assignment meant to her.
“Right now, I’m at a time in life where I am living with my brother-in-law and my sister, so all of my belongings are very small,” Clark said. “So, it kind of felt like the things that were in the bathroom were actually things that meant something to me.”
Second place winner, 20 year-old GRCC student Tammy Tran took a different approach with her transformation piece entitled “Nature’s Nightmare.”
“I was actually surprised, to be honest, because I never thought one of my pieces could actually go to the top,” said Tammy Tran, digital media/illustration major.
According to Tran, her inspiration came from an ArtPrize contestant whose piece had been displayed in the Collins Art Gallery on the fourth floor of GRCC’s Main Building.
“At first, I didn’t know what it was about but the artist was actually there personally so she explained a little bit more about her theme, how she made it, and the materials she used,” Tran said.
Intrigued by what the artist had to say, Tran decided to give insight on what she thought the piece was about.
“It looked like things were breaking apart, falling, and all that sort of stuff and because of that I decided to use that (as my) inspiration,” Tran said.
Each of them turned their assignments into Antonakis, who then submitted his entire classes’ projects to the LAND art competition.
“I felt that there was a lot of strong work, so I told (all of my) students that I will be holding their work back to submit it to the LAND competition, and they said okay,” Antonakis said.
Not too long after, an email was sent from the coordinator of the competition to Antonakis explaining that two of his students won first and second place in the competition.
Clark and Tran were then invited to a ceremonial luncheon at the Riverfront Hotel on Feb. 12. The winners received a cash award for each of their pieces and discussed their works.
Overall the LAND student scholars competition is a network of promotion and development that seeks to strengthen the liberal arts in Michigan community colleges.
“It’s a nice acknowledgement of what the student has accomplished and how that accomplishment measures up in Michigan overall,” Antonakis said. “I think it’s a great honor for the students. I know that they appreciate it and that they’re very excited.”