GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In a darkened room in the Monroe Community church, the glow of a projector reflects off a bedsheet. The artist of this digital piece is using it as a way to heal and hoping it will help others.

Lucy VanRegenmorter’s “Let this be what happened here” is one of 12 of the first digital submissions in ArtPrize 2022. The massive art competition introduced the digital category this year.

The projector throws small, clipped videos onto a backdrop that is personal to VanRegenmorter.

“So, the sheet that I use in the piece is the sheet from my bed from last year … my bed is a safe space for me, a space of rest and comfort,” she said.

Until what VanRegenmorter referred to only as an “incident” one summer night.

“Unfortunately, it became a place of fear and violation. And after that happened, I sort of felt that I had had myself ripped from me. I didn’t feel that I would ever be the same again,” she said.

After that, VanRegenmorter said it was difficult for her to look at, touch or even throw the sheet away.

“No matter how many times I wash this sheet, I will never sleep on it again. Before I throw it out, I want something beautiful to happen on it,” she explained in her artist statement.

In the days following that night, VanRegenmorter started her healing process by collecting memories. The idea came to her when she was at the beach with her friends.

“We were on the pier and we were swimming and we were jumping off the pier into the water and for a minute, for the first time since it had happened, I just felt like myself before it had happened,” she said. “I felt like my old self. And I felt I just had forgotten that it even happened for a minute.”

That clip is featured in the projector’s slideshow. VanRegenmorter said she decided to record the moment so that she could look back at times when she struggled with thoughts about the “incident.”

“I just wanted to record it so that when I inevitably started thinking about it again and having those bad feelings and bad thoughts again, I could look back on this good time and remember ‘You were OK in this moment. Everything was fine in this moment and it will be OK again,’” she said.

VanRegenmorter and her friends jumping into a lake and at a party, her sitting among wildflowers, cheers from the stands of a Michigan State football game and flashing streetlights whizzing past a bus window are just a few glimpses into her life.

As a child, VanRegenmorter remembers visiting ArtPrize on field trips with her class. She said her father submitted art in both 2013 and 2015, which inspired her to enter her own. VanRegenmorter hopes that her piece can be a message of hope and overcoming for others who have been through similar experiences.

“I think it’s important to start a conversation. It can be something that’s really hard to talk about, especially if you don’t feel like anyone else knows what you’re going through,” VanRegenmorter said. “So, I think it can be helpful, even if they don’t want to open up and share about it, if they’re not ready to talk about it — and maybe they never will be — just to know that somebody else has been through something similar to you and there is a way to work through it and come out better on the other side.”

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“Let this be what happened here” is a way for VanRegenmorter to reclaim both herself and her space. Now it’s shaping how she moves forward in life.

“You can’t really change what happened, you can’t go back. And that’s something I’ll just have to live with. And that’s fine,” she said. “But I want to focus, going forward … on the things that make me happy and make me feel most like myself.”

“Let this be what happened here” is featured at Monroe Community Church at 1020 Monroe Ave NW in Grand Rapids.