Kalamazoo Valley's Art Prize Connection



Though Kalamazoo Valley Community College art instructor Linda Rzoska has taken the fall semester off from teaching, she is still busier than ever. Not only is she splitting her time to prepare for art shows at the Kalamazoo Nature Center and Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo for summer 2014, her most recent adventure is submitting her first piece for Art Prize, 2013. “Congregation” is on display at the Monroe Community Church in downtown Grand Rapids.

Bringing “Congregation” together was no quick process for Linda. Some 40 hours over three months went into the 27” x 52” mixed media piece. She blended a combination of graphite drawing, oil pastel, ink wash, charcoal, and digital media to represent the spirit of the landscape. Most of her work is inspired by the earth and the land, so the pieces deserve and require many steps to completion.

“I have a great deal of respect for the earth and my work is a reflection of this,” she says. “There is also an essence of comparative religion.” Influence for her work has come from personal interest and studying in Ireland several times, including her 2009 sabbatical there.

Linda’s busy schedule has prevented her from participating in Art Prize until this year—and she is thoroughly enjoying the adventure. “Some artists are there every day,” she says. “I enjoy going a couple times a week and look forward to the Art Walk.” One of the pieces to which she was drawn was made of ceramic, glazed stones. Each contains a hole where people can place tiny rolled-up paper containing wishes and dreams. The artist, Phyllis Walla-Catania, is posting these on her blog.

Another notable entry was created by fellow artist and KVCC instructor Donald Van Auken, titled Goomyland Mini Golf. This interactive sculpture can be seen at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. This is Van Auken’s second year participating in Art Prize.

Linda is no stranger to combining traditional art mediums with the digital world. She has a traditional art background, both as a college major at WMU and her early career in design and illustration. She now teaches traditional and digital classes at the Center for New Media, and also Adobe Creative Suite Programs, including InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.

She feels we are lucky here in Michigan to have Art Prize, the KIA, and Colleges who offer art classes. “I don’t think we realize how much local talent we have here,” she says. “It is nice to have open competition to showcase that.”

“I am also grateful to KVCC for allowing the alternative teaching schedule so that I can explore new things and share them with my students,” she said.

ArtPrize runs through Oct. 6 in downtown Grand Rapids and nearby Frederik Meijer Gardens. It includes 1,524 works at 169 venues. Admission is free. Total prize money is $560,000, including $200,000 for first place in the public vote, $75,000 for second and $50,000 for third. Two ways you can vote for ArtPrize winners:

Download the free ArtPrize Mobile app for your iPhone or Android phone. The app lets you register, and there’s an interactive map, artist and venue listings and more.

Register at any of the ArtPrize Voting Sites clearly marked on ArtPrize maps or the Hub at 41 Sheldon. More details at www.artprize.org. Vote Code for “Congregation” is 54276.