To Belong in Art

By Holly Tumbarello

Holly Tumbarello, GVSU Senior

“What does it mean to belong?” These words stared back at me as I viewed the Project 1 page for the first time after discovering their internship program. My mind went in hundreds of directions and I wondered how the artists’ pieces were going to answer that question this year.

I’ve actively attended ArtPrize for the past few years since moving to the West side of the state. The art pieces capturing my attention and challenging me to view the world through a perspective different than my own every fall. When I found out about the ArtPrize internship program, my passion for creativity was sparked and I was curious to see how the different aspects of ArtPrize come together to create a city wide event. This year, specifically, under the theme of belonging. Entering my senior year at Grand Valley State University, that theme has been relevant in my life throughout my college education. Every year, thousands of new students moving to the Grand Rapids area from their hometown who really just want to be a part of a community here and to belong.

This season, I worked with the development team learning how our sponsors play a role in helping ArtPrize run. From visiting the locations of the Project 1 sites before construction began, to contacting local businesses, to attending ArtPrize events specifically to celebrate our sponsors and donors, I got to experience the rush of this new project firsthand.

Getting the chance to talk with the artists about their art, learning how they viewed community, and why they chose their specific locations throughout Grand Rapids helped shape my view on belonging. Not only did I attend parts of Grand Rapids I had not visited before, but it also challenged me to look at buildings and the surrounding area with a new perspective.

It was an honor to work with the team at ArtPrize and watching the team handle challenges with ease and solve problems working with artists, performers, sponsors, staff, and the like to bring the exhibition to life. I learned a lot from the ArtPrize team, and their leadership ability to problem solve.

To belong is to have a supportive community. Not just be present in the community, but to have a role in shaping the community, to learn from and teach others. I am thankful to be part of a team this year that values the artists and shapes our community through the lens of art. Having the opportunity to visit our sponsors and learn how their contribution directly impacts the artists and Grand Rapids showed me how much of a community Grand Rapids really is. How even through our differences, our different visions and values, we can all come together to question and appreciate art.

The Project 1 by ArtPrize internship program is underwritten by Deloitte and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.