Friday, April 20, 2018

ArtPrize 2018, Stitched


On May 3, 2016, my nephew legally became my brother. It was a sunny day - full of smiles, nerves, and tears.
 
When his birth parents were not able to keep him safe, he was placed in the foster care system in 2014 at almost 2.5 years old. Without hesitation, my parents decided to foster parent my nephew.

It was a painful journey and soon became clear that reunification with his birth parents was not the route we were on.  It was a confusing time and one without easy answers.

He regularly called me “mom” with questioning eyes. Others assumed I was his mother when we were out together, resulting in him kicking and running away, hurt and confused.

He began to write dozens, then hundreds of letters, stuffing them into any envelope he could get his hands on and giving them to people he loved. His top two birthday list requests were envelopes and paper. Writing letters became his way of processing his hurt.

I couldn’t read most of his toddler handwriting, but I could make out words: Mommy…Nani…Opa…and my name, Ali.

After 693 days of the foster care system journey, his birth parents bravely decided to place him for adoption, and my parents adopted him. Many of his feelings of hurt and confusion slowly began to transform into feelings of love and safety. He stopped writing letters so frequently. We saw some of his pain transform into beauty and our family grew stronger.

I tucked away the box of letters he had written to me – I wasn’t ready to get rid of them but also wasn’t sure what to do with them.

After a year, I was finally ready to put the pieces together. I began to piece together his journey into a quilt. With each stitch I asked for healing. I prayed for patience. I felt beauty blooming out of pain.
His journey is not over – there are more hurts that will need to be processed. But these letters are stitched into his story, it’s a part of who he is.

Our past does not define who we are, but it is up to us to choose how to stitch together pieces of our journey into beauty.


When I first showed my nephew what I was working on, his eyes doubled in size, he covered his mouth with his small 6-year-old hand, gasped, and said, “Auntie Ali, it’s beautiful!”




Friday, May 5, 2017

ArtPrize 2017, Home

Title: Home
Medium: Pencil on Paper
Venue: Central Reformed Church (10 College Ave NE Grand Rapids MI 49503)
Exhibition Hours: M, T, TH 5-8 pm, W, F, Sa 12-8, Su 12-6


Description: Many years ago, Anna VanderSchaaf (De Rooy) immigrated from the Netherlands to Canada on a boat named "The Waterman" after World War II to start a new life, as her life then was not easy. 

Her immigration journey was difficult and although decades later, it still pains her to talk about it now. 

Yet, many of her memories are about how this new country became home. She remembers feeling welcomed when arriving to Canada. She received legal citizenship status so that she could begin working, get married, start a business, and start a family. 60 years later, she now calls Canada her home. 

This piece captures a joyful yet uncertain moment as Anna nears Canada on the boat with her family and other immigrants aboard. Can't we also open our arms and allow our country to become home for immigrants?






Monday, August 22, 2016

ArtPrize 2016

 Title: "Perspective: In God's Hands"

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Venue: Grand Woods Lounge (77 Grandville Ave SW Grand Rapids MI 49503)


Exhibition hours: 12:00-9:00 pm daily

Description:When life seems too difficult, we often get caught up in our own emotions, thoughts, and desires. Sometimes, it helps to take a step back and see how small we really are in the big picture.  All of those countries, all of those lakes and mountains, all of that ocean - the wars, evil, depression, injustice, the joy, beauty, smiles, and love - they are in God's hands and we are but a small piece of the bigger picture. 
However small it may be, each piece is important and has a unique voice - let's all choose to end the wars, evil, depression, and injustice and instead live with joy, recognize beauty, and love fearlessly. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

ArtPrize 2015

Title: "Justice"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Venue: Mayan Buzz Cafe (208 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids MI 49503)
Exhibition hours: 6:00 am-12:00 am

Description: 
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. But, what if people with power steal the man's boat, put up a fence around the lake, and do not permit him to fish? What if a functional collapse of systems leaves the man vulnerable to violence and corruption? 





When people think of poverty, they tell you what they see. What they don't see is what is intentionally hidden by the perpetrator. People don't talk about things they don't have solutions for. 





However, solutions to large problems are not impossible - it takes obedience that requires perseverance and bravery! Let's strengthen systems and do justice so that everyone can freely fish and eat for a lifetime.  (Inspired by excerpts and thoughts from AJS, IJM, and multiple other readings.) 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ArtPrize 2013: One Voice

The world often tells the disabled, the elderly, the poor/widow/orphan that they are not good enough to have a voice. But I have found most of these people have a better sense of self, sense of humor, and sense of the world than I do. The average person often forgets the importance of each and every voice as well as the importance and responsibility of their own voice. 

So, what if one day, we all believed that our voice mattered? That we had a responsibility to use that voice for good? And, what if all of those voices became One Voice? What if One Day was Today? 


In this 3 part painting, the first section represents the voice of the disabled, the elderly, the widow/poor/orphan, and the second represents the voice of the average person. Both the first and the second show individuals sitting on the same bench but not united in any other way. The third, however, represents the budding potential and desire to get up from the bench to use your voice to make one day, today.


Inspired by:
-The Velveteen Rabbit by Margorie Williams
-The Help by Kathryn Stockett
-Dr. Seuss
-Sue Monk Kidd
-Micah Bournes
-"One Day" by Matisyahu
-The elderly
-The disabled
-The forgotten
-The widow, poor, and orphan

Friday, August 16, 2013

ArtPrize 2013: One Voice



 The tape is off and the signature is on!



Some quick, unprofessional photos:






Friday, August 2, 2013

Progress!

ArtPrize 2013 is coming next month! I've made some slow progress on my piece - here are some updated progress photos. 
Image #1: The voice of the disabled, the widow,                           Image #2: The voice of the  average person
 the poor, the orphan, the elderly    





Image #3: The potential of One Voice together                                     Current favorite sunny painting spot