The Making of a Mural- ArtPrize Nine

Two years ago, I decided to dedicate myself to creating art and using it to connect with others. I made a goal to work toward, something that would require engagement with my community, confidence, and development in my work. The ultimate challenge, ArtPrize Nine

ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days each fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan....Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. Art is exhibited throughout downtown Grand Rapids (

When Lions and Rabbits approached me with the idea of painting an indoor mural in their venue, I didn't think twice. I have always been eager to expand my work beyond the edges of a canvas and see what it can become on a larger scale. Larger scale meaning approximately 65 feet wide by 15 feet tall. 


The title of the mural, Expansion, evolved from this new scale. My work is reactionary and responsive, beginning with forms that often aren't visible from the top layer, but influence those final marks. On a canvas, these marks are limited by the ending of space. While working on the mural, my marks were altered by seemingly vastness of space. Just because I reached the top of the wall didn't mean I had to stop there, and with this freedom the painting stretched across the ceiling. I focused on the concept that the piece should be viewed successfully as a whole, but also have strength in each independent moment as you walk it's length or up close to a single section.

The physical openness seeped into me while painting, and I expanded with excitement and exhilaration as I mixed buckets of paint, climbed up and down ladders, and moved quickly to put my feelings into form. The mural became a translation of the process of creating it. I put more of myself into this piece than any other that I've created; through the physicality of making it, newfound discoveries of form and dimension, and the euphoric artistic growth that took place. Expansion conveys what a painting and artist can do when the boundaries are taken down. 


With 500 8oz containers of donated paint from X-Rite, I constructed my color palette. The goal of the mural was to be vibrant and contrasting from a distance, but recognizably detailed and layered at a closer view point.

Photo by Kellie Cassel

Photo by Kellie Cassel


Expansion can be viewed at Lions and Rabbits venue along with multiple other ArtPrize entries. Preview Week begins today, September 13th, and ArtPrize Nine will be September 20th-October 8th.