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Learning about the art of the possible 

GRPS students learn skills, career paths at GRCC camp

GRCC, Grand Rapids — In an art studio classroom at Grand Rapids Community College, 14 juniors from City High Middle School sat in front of easels surrounding a table of various objects. 

“I really wanna draw that bird,” junior Frieda Pallathy said as she adjusted her chair and easel to get a better view of a wicker bird on the table. 

On her large sheet of paper, she started with drawing the basic shapes of the head and body, then went back and added a beak, feathers and shading. 

Starting with simple shapes before adding details were the instructions GRCC visual arts professor Katie Budden gave her art camp class before they began their still life drawings.

“Choose a section of objects off the table to draw,” Budden instructed. “Put pencil to paper, let loose and let it happen.”  

City High Middle School junior Aamiyah Castros chose to sketch a ceramic fawn for her still life drawing

Possibilities To Pursue Art

Five high schools, including art teacher Meghan Whittle’s class from City High, along with Ottawa Hills and Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy, were invited to visit GRCC, learn about the visual arts program from college professors and tour the campus. 

‘There is a lot more potential for an art career than I thought. I love art so if I can do what I love and get a degree, that would be great.’

— Frieda Pallathy, City High Middle School junior

The daylong program was designed to give high school students an inside look into GRCC’s visual arts programs and answer their questions about pursuing an arts career. 

Students rotated through five classes hosted by professors from different disciplines including drawing, digital art, art history and pottery. 

Department head professor Nick Antonakis gave a presentation about careers in the arts and how GRCC programs help students achieve their goals. 

“The reality is there is a ton we can do as artists,” he said. “(At GRCC) you can find the thing you like best, enjoy doing it all day long, get good at it and make a career out of it.”

Medical textbook art, art history, furniture design, automotive design, digital media and digital illustration were some of the careers Antonakis said GRCC students have pursued after graduating. 

In response to a student’s question, he explained that GRCC’s art majors were included under the Grand Rapids Promise, a plan for students who live in Grand Rapids and graduate from one of its public, private and charter high schools to receive two-year scholarships to GRCC. 

He added: “It’s amazing when you think about all the possibilities our students have.” 

At the end of the day, Frieda reflected on her takeaways from the various presentations and hands-on experiences. 

“There is a lot more potential for an art career than I thought,” she said. “I love art so if I can do what I love and get a degree, that would be great.”

Fourteen juniors from City High Middle School attended art camp at GRCC

Read more: 
Speaker’s message: ‘Be strong and celebrate who you are’
Education space, the ‘third teacher’

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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