A New Kind of Flower Power for the 21st Century

Zoe Bultman says the theme of her winning ArtPrize entry is really pretty simple.

“It’s possible for natural resources and electrical and industrial things to work together, peacefully and productively,” the City High Middle School junior said of “Flower Power,” a large-scale colored pencil drawing.

Top 10 finishers in the SmartArt competition at ArtPrize

  1. Zoe Bultman, City High Middle, “Flower Power
  2. Desiree Jones, City graduate, “Grand Perspective
  3. Tatum Kovach, City, “Preserving Our Prints
  4. Jaidyn Pursell, Union High, “Sight of Energy
  5. Isabel Maternowski, City, “Solar Gain
  6. Eric Steeby, City, “Changes
  7. Ruby Biggs, Grand Rapids Montessori, “Renewable Energy
  8. Meaghan Gietzen, City, “The Power of Nature
  9. Katelyn Morrison, Union, “The Vision
  10. Hannah Summers, Innovation Central, “The Green House Effect

Photos of this year’s Top 20 SmartArt entries as well as a banner showing the Top 10

The potent combination of her message and artistry brought Zoe first-place honors in the SmartArt student competition of ArtPrize, topping nine other finalists from Grand Rapids Public Schools. The third annual collaboration between GRPS and competition sponsor Consumers Energy, “Students Making Art with a Renewable Theme” highlights renewable and efficient energy through creative artwork.

Forty student submissions were narrowed to 20 finalists last spring and to the top 10 in September. Three professional judges chose Zoe’s image of solar-powered light bulbs forming a flower, earning her an Apple laptop computer and a $1,000 college scholarship.

Zoe said she was taken aback by the award, given the high quality of the other student works.

“I was really shocked,” she said. “It’s kind of taken me a little while to come to terms with the fact that I actually did win. Once it kind of settled in, it’s really cool and it’s an honor.”

She said her concept germinated from Earth Day speakers over the years. She refined it by making several sketches with help from her art teacher, Anne Krenselewski. “She helps me with all my pieces, the composition and technique,” said Zoe, who has taken art at City since seventh grade and is involved in its environmental club.

♥An Environmentally Conscious Perfectionist

Krenselewski said Zoe conceptualized the piece on her own, and that her rendering in Prismacolor pencils “shows her exceptional skill with the medium” as well as her perfectionism.   

“She worked for nearly two months questioning and fine-tuning the various elements in her drawing until she was finally satisfied,” Krenselewski said in an email. “’Flower Power’ and the accompanying artist statement are a powerful duo that reflect Zoe’s exceptional commitment to increasing our planet’s use of renewable energy and her immense talent.”

Five of the other nine finalists are also City High students or graduates, and City students have won the top award all three years. Krenselewski said that reflects the fact that art is considered a core subject in its International Baccalaureate program.

Zoe Bultman’s drawing, “Flower Power,” represents natural resources and industry working together “I believe my talented students do well because not only do they have a love for the arts, they are given the opportunities to explore what drives their personal creative thoughts,” she said.

The second-place winner, 2015 City High graduate Desiree Jones, received an Apple laptop. The third-place winner, City senior Tatum Kovach, and fourth-place winner, Union High sophomore Jaidyn Pursell, received iPads.

Gift cards worth $100 went to the fifth- through 10th-place finishers. All 10 works are on display on the Consumers Energy building in downtown Grand Rapids, at the southeast corner of West Fulton Street and Market Avenue.

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Top 10 SmartArt Finalists

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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