Reed City Middle School Students Glue Together Masterpiece For ArtPrize Nine

“It feels really good, like we got something that big accomplished,” says Nora Smoes, 7th grader at Reed City Middle School.

It’s a masterpiece shaped from glass by dozens of Northern Michigan middle-schoolers.

It could be destined for big things, as it is already on its way to one of the biggest art celebrations in Michigan.

ArtPrize pulls thousands of artists and their best work into Grand Rapids every year.

For the first time, the competition will feature 26 student entries, –competing for an award and $5,000 sponsored by Western Michigan University.

Reed City Middle School is one of them.

“We’ve worked on it for every class period for about three weeks now,” says Katelynn Holmes, 8th grader and one of the many artists involved.

Fifty-three students have been working on a whole bunch of glass.

The work began on the first day of school.

“On the first day, we started drawing the mandalas,” says 8th grader Madison Pollaski. “As soon as we got those done, we started crushing the glass and then making it into the right pieces and sizes.”

“It was very time-consuming, I’d say,” says fellow 8th grader Aaron Boucher. “It definitely took a lot of time, a lot of hard work, a lot of glue and glass.”

A process that began with an email to art teacher Vicky Krantz.

“I was very excited when I got the email, saying they were having a Youth Collaboration Award,” Krantz says.

“It was kind of her baby,” says Sarah Morlock, who teaches world culture and language arts at the middle school. “She saw that we could enter ArtPrize and do a youth collaboration so she said hey, what do you think?”

The kids’ world culture teacher soon joined the effort.

The title “Cultural Diffusion” was born.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Morlock laughs. “The hammering of the glass and all of the kids working, 53 bodies, in one room.”

When you take a look at their mandala, there’s 49 different tiles across the board and the whole thing took about 40 pounds of glass to get to this point.

What’s more, if you shut the lights off, there’s more to it.

“It was pretty hard, especially getting the pieces of glass to fit where you needed them to,” Pollaski says.

The finished product lights up soothingly in the dark, a beacon bringing together two classes and, hopefully an award.

“Hopefully, when people look at it, they feel peaceful and if they just stare at it and think it’s beautiful, then hey, that’s okay, too,” Morlock says.

“It makes me feel good and they’ll take a little piece of this for the rest of their lives,” Krantz says.

If you want to start voting on the kids’ project, you can find “Cultural Diffusion” posted on the ArtPrize voting pages.

There work will be on display at the West Grand Neighborhood Organization at 415 Leonard Street NW in Grand Rapids, MI.

More than 50 students from Reed City Middle School spent three weeks created this glass mosaic mandala called “Cultural Diffusion.”