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ACWL-Nuveen Juried Art Exhibition 2022 Award Winners

“The job of the artist is to deepen the mystery”, this quote attributed to the 20th-century Irish-born English painter Francis Bacon, captures what juror Mark Rumsey responded to when selecting artwork for the ACWL-Nuveen Juried Exhibition – 2022. He selected art that spoke to the mystery, the unexplainable, the curious. Provocative artwork that pushes boundaries on object-making and ways to represent pictorial space. His goal with this finely curated group of artworks was to, “pique the curiosity of visitors to be open to new possibilities and ways of looking.”

Mark Rumsey, the juror for the 2022 exhibition is a multi-talented mixed media artist based in Grand Rapids with an extensive national and international exhibition record – Mr. Rumsey made his selections for the exhibit from online digital applications then awarded prizes in both the adult and youth division after viewing the artwork in person at the ACWL-Nuveen galleries. He had this to say about this year’s talent:

Juried Exhibition Winners

1st Place: Sara Clark - Pulling Out the Stops- this artwork provoked my curiosity causing me to ask questions. Is this something in the process of forming a cocoon to undergo a transformation? Is the transformation complete and the cocoon being sloughed off? Or is this prey caught in a web? The material usage also piques my curiosity. A clay vessel form with pinprick openings clad with metal pins in what look like wooden knobs woven together with string, hard and fragile, tough, and soft. If left outside in the elements, how would it decay? Over time the string and wood would rot away, later the metal would rust away, and eventually, the clay would crack and erode, a study in entropy perhaps.

2nd Place: Phillip Hanson - Emerald Bore - In the music world Emerald Bore would be referred to as a Wall of Sound. The intensity of materials, textures, and colors coalesce into an intense visual experience. It is akin to taking Van Gogh off his pictorial leash and allowing him to run freely. The surfaces and colors speak to an active search for order within the chaos. It is a curious balance of exploration and structure, of knowing and seeking.

3rd Place: Jason Starin - SOL 010 - Saturn - This piece evokes mystery. There is an intentional reference to Modernist Art that is then spun and mashed up with color and texture and obscurity. It is a cube, a building block, but also a vessel as revealed by the small dark opening. What occupies the interior space? Has it been abandoned? Could it be a nest or a hive?

Other award winners in the adult ACWL-Nuveen Juried Art Exhibition 2022 include:

ACWL-Nuveen Award: Collected Samples - Ann Kraus - using the traditional craft technique of weaving the artist tells a more menacing story with the strong swatch of red moving from the right to the left. It is visually unavoidable and interrupts an otherwise peaceful organization of test tube-like shapes and muted tones. It makes you question what you are looking at - what was the artist trying to say? it has staying power.

Honorable Mention: Leviathan - Cara O’Brien

Youth Exhibition Winners


1st Place: The Eye of Fire - Riley Lorson - Oehrli Elementary - This artwork had a great collage element within the drawing with a curious use of pictorial space. The image went beyond being simply representational.

2nd Place: Fat Unicorn - Greta Seaver - Oehrli Elementary - This piece was really fun; it had a delightful title and great use of color.

3rd Place: Dahlias - Alida Muller - Home School - This artwork stood out for the interesting mark-making and the great variation of color within the flowers.


1st Place: Alien Abduction Through Dimensions - Sam Pospisil - Pine Ridge Elementary - The juror saw this as a very fun drawing that makes you wonder “What is this?” and “What’s going on here?”

2nd Place: Interdimensional Dog - David France - Oehrli Elementary - This artwork had a very playful use of space. It poses a question and then gives some more information, such as the face that’s discovered inside the pattern. It’s almost like a Choose Your Own Adventure story.

3rd Place: War is Eminent - Lenox Cole - Daisy Brook Elementary - It is obvious this artwork tells a tragic story, but the drawing exudes hopefulness in the still blue skies and the green grass.

Honorable Mention: Thought Splats - Alice Pospisil – Pine Ridge Elementary


1st Place: Horror Bunny - Sova Jones - Home School - This mask was uniquely special, particularly evocative, and mysterious.

2nd Place: Pentaceratop - Christina Franzon - Home School - This artwork is exciting for its color variation, texture, and distinctive mark-making.

3rd Place: The Earth Seen Differently - Annie Muller - Whitehall Middle School - This piece felt hopeful, it had a playful exploration of material beyond the typical use of papier-mâché.

Honorable Mention: Unique Space Moon - Camiya Parker - Muskegon Heights Academy


1st Place: Beauty in Bloom - Katie Biesiada - Reeths-Puffer High School - This piece provoked curiosity. There’s a rhythmic pattern to it but, as you explore further, you see a variety of materials from bottle caps to beads. In addition to the rhythm of shapes, there’s a subtle use of color variation that has its own rhythmic quality as well.

2nd Place: Brainwashed - Raven Barnes - Reeths-Puffer High School - This piece was multi-layered. It is obviously messaging something, but the message isn’t as prescriptive as you would expect. The piece features words, but these words could have multiple meanings when viewed in the context of the board game and the images.

3rd Place: Sum 41 - Aiden Hacker - Reeths-Puffer High School - The artist’s unique choice of materials, paperboard on top of cardboard was particularly bold. The collaged elements really come together along with the artist's confident single mark-making.

ACWL-Nuveen Awards in the youth division were given to the following artists:

Western Sunset - Ira Jenkins - Whitehall High School - What stood out in this painting was the way Ira used the white area of this painting to be really effective. The use of color above the white space to create the glow was very eye-catching. This piece has life!

What’s the Deal with Paint? - Anna Dean - Montague High School - This one is an ACWL-Nuveen staff and Board favorite. We loved the rich red background and the way the paint is laid. The thickness and solidness of the brushwork tell a definitive story of the face of comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Honorable Mention:

Skylar Wright - Life - Reeths-Puffer High School

Linnea Pothoven - Mist - Fruitport High School

Lilly Hopkins - Loyal - Hart High School

Ludo Guerriui - Aztec Gold & Royal Blue - Reeths-Puffer High School

Chole Shelder - My Anorexic Demon - Reeths-Puffer High School

The award winners in each category were celebrated during a small socially-distanced Facebook Live event on Saturday March 20th – which can be accessed here. We really encourage you to visit the exhibit before April 23rd to experience all of the incredible artwork up close and in person. It’s definitely worth the visit!



Hana Girdvainis-Sawyer
Hana Girdvainis-Sawyer

😍Looks like a wonderful show and I love the selections and judges comments. Can't wait to see the exhibits.


Thank you, Hana!!

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