Every time Luis Briones looks out his window into the backyard, he sees the garden space his daughter built and thinks of her.
Now, the Grand Ledge, Mich. resident looks at her latest project and can’t help but be even more proud of her.
“As a parent … you work hard to try to help other people work hard and to help your child,” Briones said. “You hope good things come out of it.”
A mural painted by Marelguij Briones, 21, was featured in this year’s ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. The Grand Valley State University senior said her work was submitted as part of a collaborative project with seven other artists, with an overall goal of making the pieces interactive and accessible to those who are blind, deaf or who live with other disabilities. It is the first ArtPrize submission to do so.
For her 4-by-4-foot mural, Marelguij Briones said she used wooden planks, layered the top of them with sheet music and painted caricatures of her father and brother performing music. Within the speech bubbles of the caricatures, she used music notes to spell out phrases in braille.
ArtPrize is a public art competition that allows participants to use the city of Grand Rapids as their canvas. Winners potentially could win up to $200,000.
After deciding on a musical theme, Marelguij Briones said it the idea to include her family came simultaneously. She said her father often played piano at home throughout her childhood.
“I immediately thought of my dad and brother, who are musicians,” she said. “During dinner, (Dad) would always be on the piano.”
After seeing his daughter grow from making comic strips as a child to being featured in competitions, Luis Briones said what makes him most proud is her passion.
“The most important thing is that she’s enjoying that,” he said. “You can see that enthusiasm.”
ArtPrize also has experienced some growth of its own, bringing thousands of spectators to downtown Grand Rapids each year. MSU junior Christina Bowman, who grew up in Grand Rapids and attends the festival annually, said she has enjoyed watching ArtPrize unfold over the years.
“It’s crazy to see how many people come from all over the country just to see this festival,” Bowman said. “It’s crazy to think ‘that’s where I’m from,’ and we started this thing that so many people travel to see.”