ArtPrize 2018

Title: Stitched
Medium: Stitched paper
Venue: Grand Rapids Police Department

On a sunny day, May 3, 2016, my nephew legally became my brother. 
When his birth parents were not able to keep him safe, he was placed in the foster care system 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. 

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 and he stopped writing letters so frequently. 

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 begin piecing his journey together 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!”

ArtPrize 2017

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?

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

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. 

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

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.)

ArtPrize 2013________________________________________

Title: "One Voice"
Medium: Watercolor on Paper
Venue: Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Reception: There will be a reception for artists and their families on September 22, from Noon to 3:00 PM. You are invited to attend worship with us at 10:30 AM.

Exhibition hours: Here are the hours that BLC will be open for the exhibition:
     Monday through Thursday: 5:00-8:00 PM
     Friday and Saturday: Noon-8:00 PM
     Sunday: Noon-6:00 PM
     Also open during church business hours, M-F, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM


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

Previous ArtPrize 2013 Posts:

Concept sketches 
Since ArtPrize 2012 I have been filling my mind with an abundance of ideas for ArtPrize 2013.  I've had so many ideas that not only has it been hard to choose which direction to go, but it has also been difficult to take all of the ideas in my head and create something concrete that viewers can grasp.

This year's idea is inspired by many books that I have read and songs that I have listened to - but also by some of the people I've worked with and met in the last few years.  The world often tells the "dis"-abled, 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 (you/me) often forget the importance of each and every voice as well as the importance and responsibility of our 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?

Preliminary layers 

This year's theme will include 3 small watercolor paintings. 

The first representing the voice of the  "dis"-abled/widow/poor/orphan/elderly. 

The second representing the voice of the average person (you/me). 

The third representing the potential of One Voice to create brothers and sisters living in the now ready to make one day, today. 
Continuing to add layers

Inspired By:

-The Velveteen Rabbit by Margorie Williams

-The Help by Kathryn Stockett
-Dr. Seus
-Sue Monk Kidd
-Micah Bournes
-"One Day" by Matisyahu (click here to watch the music video)
-The elderly
-The "dis"-abled
-The forgotten
-The widow, poor, and orphan

ArtPrize 2012_______________________________________________________________

Come to downtown Grand Rapids to support ArtPrize 2012, from September 19 to October 7! ArtPrize is a unique and ever exciting opportunity for the Grand Rapids community to come together. Get involved to support Grand Rapids - view art, take the city bus, ride the shuttle, eat at a local restaurant, and meet artists and viewers. Visit for more information about different artists and venues for ArtPrize 2012.

My piece will be part of the "Art to Change the World" exhibit at Fountain Street Church. The exhibit will honor the role art plays as a change agent for social and economic justice and its ability to communicate basic human rights issues and to envision a more perfect world.

Voting (register at a registration site downtown)

1. Text Message (Text my code (52363) to 808080)
3. ArtPrize iPhone and Android apps
 My vote code is: 52363

ArtPrize 2011_____________________________________________________________

Come to the "Meet the Artist" Event!
Friday, September 23 · 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
250 Commerce SW
Grand Rapids, MI

More Info
Come down to support Grand Rapids, artists, and local venues for ArtPrize 2011, starting on September 21! There are several ways to get involved: viewing art, taking the bus downtown, riding the shuttle, eating at a local restaurant, meeting new artists, and many more. Visit for information about various artists and venues for this year's ArtPrize event. The piece I entered is titled "Shredded Materialism" and was created by collecting all of the advertisements that came to my apartment in 1 month, shredding them, and glueing them together. See some of the pictures on the wall below, but to see the complete 3x6 foot piece and the motives behind it, come down to ArtPrize and check it out!

My voting number is 51211 (see below for how to vote for artists). To find my profile online, search "Alison DeRooy" in the Artist search bar, or search "Bethlehem Lutheran Church" in the Venue search bar (

Important Dates: -September 21-28: First Round voting
-September 23: 6:00 pm "Meet the Artist" at Bethlehem Lutheran Church (Come down this night to meet me and many other artists shown at the church to learn more about the artists and their work).
-September 29: 10 finalists announced
-October 5: Week 2 voting ends
-October 6: Artprize winners announced!

How to Vote:
Register Online -
Each voter must have an individual email address
Register online and save time activating your voter status at the event
Want to do it in person? Visit a registration site at the event
Online registration starts September 7, 2011

Activate at the Event
All voters must activate their voting status in person at the event (it's only fair)
Present a valid government issued ID at a registration site
ID can be drivers license, other state ID or passport
Activate your status anytime from September 21 - October 5

Voting Rules
Week 1 Voting - All Artists
Voting begins September 21, 2011
Vote up or down on each artist
You cannot vote more than once for the same work
Results can be viewed online
Week 1 voting ends 11:59PM, September 28
10 finalists announced Thursday, September 29

Week 2 Voting - Top 10, ONE vote
Voting begins after announcement of the Top 10
You have only ONE vote during Week 2
You may only vote among the Top 10
You may change your vote until voting ends
Results are concealed during Week 2
Week 2 voting ends 11:59PM, October 5
Winners announced Thursday, October 6