October 3, 2018

Grand Rapids High School Senior Wins Top Prize in Consumers Energy Sponsored Student Art Competition

A Grand Rapids senior’s artwork depicting a better future with more renewable energy has earned a $1,000 college scholarship and prominent display of her winning creation in downtown Grand Rapids as ArtPrize 10 heads into its final week.

Jenna Sherwin’s piece, “Light Up the World,” was chosen by three professional judges as the top winner of the sixth annual SmartArt competition among Grand Rapids Public Schools’ high school students, sponsored by Consumers Energy.

A Grand Rapids senior’s artwork depicting a better future with more renewable energy has earned a $1,000 college scholarship and prominent display of her winning creation in downtown Grand Rapids as ArtPrize 10 heads into its final week.

Jenna Sherwin’s piece, “Light Up the World,” was chosen by three professional judges as the top winner of the sixth annual SmartArt competition among Grand Rapids Public Schools’ high school students, sponsored by Consumers Energy.

Sherwin, who attends City High/Middle School, was first among the Top 10 finalists in the SmartArt (Students Making Art with a Renewable Theme) competition. The winners were announced today at Rosa Parks Circle during ArtPrize’s Final 20 Announcement of the top publicly voted entries, sponsored by Consumers Energy. The company has been an ArtPrize sponsor since 2011.

Presenting the $1,000 scholarship check to Sherwin was Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience. She was joined on stage by GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal and Maggie Malone, the district’s fine arts director.

“In studying both the wonderful entries and their in-depth artist statements, it is clear these students understand the importance of renewable energy and its pivotal role in our future,” Youngdahl Snyder said. “Their understanding of renewable energy’s importance follows our company’s journey toward using more renewables and less fossil fuels in the years ahead.”

In her artist statement, Sherwin said she wanted to “express hope about the possibility of attaining a better future through active perseverance and continuous effort. In my piece, light bulbs grow on a tree like fruit, representing clean renewable energy fueled by the natural processes of the earth.”

Since the beginning of ArtPrize more than 10 days ago, a large banner with the Top 10 SmartArt finalists has been on display along the side of Consumers Energy’s Ellsworth Substation at Fulton and Market streets downtown. Sherwin’s entry will be noted on the banner as the first place winner.

In addition to the banner, the Top 10 entries are framed and on display inside the JW Marriott, 235 Louis St. NW in downtown Grand Rapids.

For the third year, Consumers Energy’s Facebook page hosted a “People’s Choice” contest based on the number of likes, shares and comments. The People’s Choice winner is “Solar Bus” by Lana deGraaf, a junior at City High/Middle School, with 380 votes out of a total of 1,600 votes cast. She will receive a $200 Visa gift card and her art teacher Anne Krenselewski will receive a $200 gift card toward classroom supplies.

Neal said interest among students and teachers has increased with the SmartArt competition now in its sixth year, and assists in the district’s transformation efforts. “We are grateful to Consumers Energy for their support of our students to help them become tomorrow’s leaders. GRPS made a commitment to going green in our Transformation Plan, and this is a tremendous opportunity for our students to be educated about those efforts and participate through their art.”

Students created their entries this spring. In early May, GRPS officials selected the Top 20 entries from nearly 50 submitted pieces. The Top 20 were judged by a panel of experts from Kendall College of Art & Design at Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University. In late May, ArtPrize hosted Consumers Energy and the Top 20 students and their teachers at its hub in downtown Grand Rapids to announce the 10 finalists and to celebrate everyone’s achievements.

“At ArtPrize, we believe that art is essential, and we value programs that enrich communities through art,” said Jori Bennett, ArtPrize executive director. “We're thrilled to see the partnership between Consumers Energy and Grand Rapids Public Schools continue to grow and deepen year over year, offering children in our community expanded opportunities to explore their creativity -- and for the Top 10 SmartArt finalists to have the opportunity to display their work inside the JW Marriott during ArtPrize 10.”

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.