Student drew on chronic illness to create SmartArt-winning painting

ArtPrize

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A stroll through downtown Grand Rapids will introduce passersby to the beauty of self-expression.

Artist Neveah Martin’s piece, hanging at the ArtPrize offices in the Ledyard Building, sends a clear message.

“I wanted global warming to be a humanized issue because it’s usually something political,” said Neveah Martin, a junior at Grand Rapids Public Schools’ C.A. Frost Middle High School.

Martin painted a sickly-looking woman whose body is fighting global warming. Martin named her Earth. She’s pictured with icy blue hair that is burning at the edges, she drinks from a nuclear power plant that looks like hot coffee and carries solar-powered glasses on her shirt that give her energy on her worst days.

“Left Untreated” by Neveah Martin, the winner of the 2021 SmartArt competition. (Courtesy)

“I know what it’s like to be ill and what it’s like to be sick constantly and sometimes what it’s like to not be heard about that sickness,” Martin said. “Making Earth something that someone can relate to was really important to me.”
 
The painting, entitled “Left Untreated,” earned Martin the title of 2021 SmartArt winner.

She participated in the competition that Consumers Energy has been sponsoring since 2013. It honors 10 Grand Rapids Public Schools students who use art to highlight renewable energy.

Martin’s classmate, Ruby Taylor, placed fourth.

“My piece this year represents rising water levels,” Taylor said. “Since day one, I’ve been thinking about the environment.”

It’s that type of thinking that Consumers Energy wants everyone to adopt.
 
“We’re all in this together as we work toward a clean energy future,” Josh Paciorek, a spokesperson for the Jackson-based utility, said. “All of us have a role to play.”

Consumer Energy leadership awarded Martin a $1,000 scholarship and a new MacBook.

All other finalists received a variation of new iPads or other scholarships, but the real prize for Martin was seeing her work, as well as her classmates’, on display.

“[It’s] really, really cool,” Martin said.

“Left Untreated” by Neveah Martin, the winner of the 2021 SmartArt competition, on display at the ArtPrize offices in the Ledyard Building in downtown Grand Rapids. (September 2021)

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