Lowell’s ArtPrize entry highlights hope over struggles

ArtPrize

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Most ArtPrize entries have a message. In the piece created by students and community members in Lowell, that message aims to calm fears and doubts created by the pandemic and other issues we’ve dealt with over the last 18 months.

Some 4,000 students and community members from Lowell had a hand in “Dreams Intertwined”, displayed at First (Park) Congregational Church at 10 East Park Place NE in downtown Grand Rapids.

“Dreams Intertwined” by Lowell High School students and community members, on display at First (Park) Congregational Church for ArtPrize 2021. (Sept. 21, 2021)

“I hope that people realize that even though something as horrible as COVID and the pandemic and everything that went down last year, it’s not going to stop us,” Lowell High School junior Kaidance Martino said.

Like so many high school students, Martino’s sophomore year was not what she had hoped for.

Messages written on some old T-shirt strips were way for her and others to move forward.

“I wrote down that I didn’t want to give up this year, because last year, it was kind of disaster after disaster after disaster, and it go really to the point of hopelessness,” Martino said.

It’s a simple notion: Set aside the trials and tribulations brought on by the pandemic and other issues for a moment and look to a brighter future. For some, including Martino, the concept was a little hard to wrap their minds around at first.

But then it clicked. Just about every student at Lowell High, along with a number of community groups, volunteered to help.

“It just feels so powerful, I guess, that everybody just did it,” Martino said of the project.

Since 2008, the Lowell Red Arrows have gone pink for one football game per season to raise funds and awareness in the battle against breast cancer. A major source of donations comes from the sale of T-shirts.

“Dreams Intertwined” collected old T-shirts, cut them into strips and allowed anyone who wanted to take part in the project to write out their hopes and dreams.

“We just wanted to think of an idea that would really bring the community together,” said Lowell art instructor Emma Bandos, who helped coordinate the effort.

Volunteers wove the strips into the wheels that make up the tapestry, with the message that we’re all in this together and the goal to help bridge divides.

“I hope everybody realizes everybody has hopes, everybody has dreams,” Martino said, everybody has reason for why they do things, and that you should think through it before you treat somebody horribly because you don’t know their story.”

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