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Students’ Mural Created with ArtPrize Artist Reflects School’s Culture

To create a sparkling mosaic mural that reflects what makes East Grand Rapids Middle School special, students tapped into the imagination and whimsy of an ArtPrize artist.

The recently installed mural, stretching across a hallway inside the school, was created by 600 sixth- through eighth-grade students with help from artist Corey Van Duinen. Together, they incorporated symbols from the school, city, Reeds Lake, and extracurricular activities.

Students create clay sculptures for the mural
Students create clay sculptures for the mural

They also added things that have special meaning, like a turtle in honor of 2015 graduate Champ McCahill, who survived a brain tumor, and the word “Kabookie,” the nickname of Jimmy Gerken, the late mentally challenged man who is still remembered as EGR’s biggest fan.

Middle School art teacher Holly Lampen received a grant from the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation and the Parent Teacher Organization to commission Van Duinen.

Materials were donated by Rylee’s Ace Hardware and Vos Glass, both of Grand Rapids.

Students fashioned little clay sculptures, pieced together colored tiles and cut 1,000 pounds of mirrors into small pieces before installing the mural this spring. Van Duinen incorporated students’ ideas to create the design using a computer program.

“We worked the entire year planning, prepping and finally installing the mural,” Lampen said.

VanDuinen helped create “Imagine That!” the second-place ArtPrize 2009 mural and collaborative creation on the exterior of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum with artists Tracy VanDuinen and Todd Osborne.

He also created the ArtPrize 2011 piece, “And A Child Will Lead Them” and the Art Prize 2014 piece “Excerpts from ‘Owen Imagines.'” He is the author of the soon-to-be-released children’s book “Owen Imagines.”


Corey Van Duinen

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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