MCCC students attend ArtPrize Eight and see Donald Trump

MCCC students encounter presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Gerald Ford Museum in Grant Rapids during an unexpected appearance at ArtPrize Eight.

MCCC students saw Donald Trump at ArtPrize Eight on Sept. 30. 

The 2016 ArtPrize Eight is the eighth annual national art competition. Hundreds of artists come from around the world to compete for a cash prize and the title of the winning art piece in one of the four main categories.  

The event is free and open to the public. It runs from Sept. 21 through Oct. 9. 

Over 160 venues display the art all over the city of Grand Rapids. People can walk into museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, theaters, hotels, public parks, and down the street to view the art.  

English professor William McCloskey and Cheryl Johnston, assistant professor of English and Reading, organized a trip to ArtPrize Eight, so MCCC students could join the thousands of people, who flock to the event to admire the artwork.  

This year Donald Trump attended. He entered the Gerald Ford Museum for a quick interview and a brief walk through the exhibit where MCCC students were viewing the art on display.  

“The Donald Trump encounter was of course totally unexpected, but it was really amazing to see a candidate in full swing campaign mode surrounded by his entourage and Secret Service detail,” Johnston said.  

McCloskey is not a Trump guy. He said he will be nice, so he only mentioned Trump was taller than he expected. 

Student Olivia Latray was excited to see Trump.  

"I thought seeing Trump was awesome. No matter who you're voting for, it's a great experience to have," Latray said. 

In contrast, student Dalton Daggett was not thrilled to meet Trump. He called the encounter a fiasco because the paparazzi were rude. 

"They were running over the patrons that were there to enjoy the art," Daggett said.  

McCloskey thought the trip was well attended. He said about 90 people originally signed up, but he estimated 70 people attended. Last year they took one bus, and this year they filled two buses.  

The ArtPrize Eight trip was open to the students in McCloskey’s and Johnston’s Humanities 151 classes, then later open to faculty and community members to fill the buses. McCloskey said the attendees were mostly MCCC students. 

 “I thought the turnout was very good.  It is always a challenge for students to work around work schedules and family responsibilities. An all-day field trip does require a commitment of time,” Johnston said.  

 “Students reacted very positively to the whole Grand Rapids experience.  I think the trip went very well.  Considering it was a week of rather inclement weather, we were very lucky to dodge the rain showers.” 

Many people on the trip voted for all the art that caught their eye during the day. 

Johnston said “Wounded Warrior Dogs” was her favorite piece, and it is currently in the Top 5 contenders in the 3D category.   

“It is an art exhibit that awed everyone who was passing by.  The tribute to service dogs and servicemen and women was really touching.  The artist worked on the sculptures over many years, and I was really amazed by the energy and liveliness of each sculpture. I hope he wins,” she said.  

McCloskey said he liked "Sand Sturgeon" and "Emoh."  

The "Stand Sturgeon" is a temporary sand painting that is larger than life. It is displayed on a 16 foot-long platform.  

The artist, Gary Moran, said the painting was inspired by the pictures he took of the endangered sturgeon fish while he was on a sturgeon survey on Lake St. Clair.  

He said the sand represents the fragility of the species and its ecosystem.  

"Emoh" was built by Loren Naji. Naji said the sculpture represents people's backwards process regarding homelessness, vacancy, and environment, which is why the sculpture's name is "home" backwards.  

Naji used debris from abandoned homes in Michigan and Ohio to construct the sculpture. "Emoh" is covered with panels resembling yards, houses, roads, and cities.  

Naji is living in "Emoh" during ArtPrize Eight as a statement on the issues his sculpture represents.  

McCloskey said he was also glad to see drawings from Jake Zapor, a graduate of MCCC, on display. Zapor entered five drawings featuring human and animal imagery.  

Latray said her favorite artwork was "Windy City." 

The artwork was created by Kerry Mott with thousands of pieces of duct tape hand-cut and placed.