When Lowell High School art teacher Sarah Ellis decided to head up a school ArtPrize project, she wanted to find something that could involve as many people as possible. She also hoped to find a project that would encourage people to look past the difficulties of the past year and envision a brighter tomorrow.
The result is Dreams Intertwined, the Lowell High School entry into the ArtPrize competition that is going on now through October 3, 2021 in downtown Grand Rapids. The entry can be seen at First (Park) Congregational Church which is located at 10 East Park Place NE by the Grand Rapids Public Library.
To create the entry, Ellis sent out a call to the community to collect old Pink Arrow shirts. With Pink Arrow being an event founded on hope and community spirit, it seemed to perfectly complement the message behind Dreams Intertwined.
More than 600 shirts were donated, and volunteers cut them into strips to be distributed to classes in Lowell Area Schools. Students were asked to write their hopes and dreams on the strips, and community members were invited to join in as well.
Those strips were then woven together into Amish knot circles, intertwining the dreams of hundreds of people in the district. Then, the circles were arranged and connected to create the brightly-hued tapestry that is currently on display.
During ArtPrize, visitors can not only view the tapestry but also add their own dreams on strips of fabric available at the church. Those strips will be added to the tapestry as well.
Unlike previous years, there is no voting in this year’s ArtPrize. However, visitors can use their smartphones to scan QR codes at various venues to search for prizes that they can award to whatever entry they like – whether that be Dreams Intertwined or another piece of art. The more prizes an entry receives, the better its chances of winning the $50,000 grand prize.
Art can also be auctioned off, and Ellis says that is the plan for Dreams Intertwined. Any proceeds from the entry will go to the Lowell Education Fund and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Ellis was assisted in the project by fellow teacher Emma Bandos, and Ethan Gough helped with videography to document the tapestry’s creation.