Speaking through their Art: Michael Trapp and Jackie Wrase qualify for Regionals in the MAEA

Speaking through their Art: Michael Trapp and Jackie Wrase qualify for Regionals in the MAEA

Karisah Watkins-Martin, Staff Writer

Walking down the winding corridor, your eyes feast on the five figures dancing on the walls.

A rich array of pinks and blues fill the inner outline of the characters, metamorphosing the once dull grey walls into a vibrant mural that breathes life.

Stepping down the few steps into the art room, you instantly feel as if you have been catapulted into an alternative universe, one brimming with bouquets of pastel origami flowers and heads of enraged dragons that seem to have been plucked out of a Grimm’s fairytale book and mounted onto the walls of the room. This room engulfed with the shards of exquisite oriental glass ceramics ready to be crafted into a singular piece and the remnants of a clay project strewn across the table can best be described by art teacher Neven Allan as a “playroom.” She compares her art students dipping the numerous brushes  into an amalgam of pastel and vibrant paints like children playing the blocks and the MAEA competition as yet another game that her students could choose to partake in.

“I tell my students to submit what they want to if they would like to play,” Allan remarked, giving a slight smirk.

The MAEA is an annual art competition that takes place in the beginning of February when the trees have been coated with a thin blanket of snow and icicles seem to decorate the window seals of buildings and the street signs. The “players” of this particular game each submitted a piece of work that they felt best reflected themselves as an artist, and 5 judges (1 for the elementary-school level, 1 for the middle-school level, and 2 for the high-school level)  go through and pluck out their favorites from each age group to move onto the Regional Show, which was showcased at The GRAM. Although there is inevitable bias when adjudicating the pieces, Allan remarks that she reminded her students that if their piece was rejected, “it wasn’t because it wasn’t wonderful.” It was simply because it wasn’t what the judges were looking for at that particular moment. The pieces were then adjudicated for the state competition where they will be moving on the 25th to East Lansing. Seniors Jackie Wrase and Michael Trapp, like blue and black pawns of a board game, rolled the dice and found out that they were both on a winning streak.

“Everything worked out pretty well,” remarked Trapp with a nod, a satisfied smile stretching across his face.

Originally not planning to enter any of his artwork into the annual MAEA art competition, Trapp was quite surprised when he realized impulsively entering a piece of his into the MAEA simply because there was an “open space” could lead to so much. He never would have imagined that this rather spontaneous act and asking himself the question of “Why not?” would be the catalyst for his state title or the possibility of his piece reaching Regionals and traveling around around the entire state of Michigan in The Governor’s Travel Show for a year.

Trapp’s piece was technically deemed a “diptych,” otherwise known as two photos placed directly next to each other. His piece stems from the concept of love as his two photos visually depict the powerful nonverbal communication based on the act of it. One of his photos is of a mother embracing a child, and the other of two elderly hands tightly grasping each other; the piece defines the word “love” in two completely different contexts and two completely different generations.

Wrase, on the other hand, approached the MAEA from a different angle than Trapp. While he seemed to stumble into the competition by chance, Wrase stolled into it with her vision in sight, a confidence that seemed to radiate off of her, and her head held high. She knew her goal and upon entering the piece was determined to provide a voice and to let it it be heard. Wrase used her paintbrush like a pencil, allowing her artwork to voice her opinion through not words on a piece of paper but rather strokes on a blank canvas.

“O, the frozen moon and cut away my ladder,” was a quote once spoken by the admirable George Henry Boker. A simple sentence yet the concept for Wrase’s entire piece of artwork. She wanted to bring attention to a shoved-under-the-rug issue, while simultaneously allowing it to be relatable. In her piece, Wrase conveyed the isolation and withdrawal that people with an anxiety disorder may experience. With her art, she attempted to explain that although people tend to be introverted, this doesn’t mean they don’t strive to be able to be extroverted around people. In other words, “No matter how desperately the tides wish to be with the shore, the moon always pulls back.”

Both Trapp’s and Wrase’s piece will be adjudicated once again in which 18 pieces will be chosen for The Governor’s Travel Show. Both students used their pieces of artwork to tell a story, one that had a deeper meaning than just portrayed by Trapp’s picture or Wrase’s splashes of color that engulfed the canvas. Both students spoke through their artwork, and Wrase comments on her voice as an artist.

“To me, art is a way to express yourself and what you have to say visually, rather than verbally,” Wrase said. “ Art is a special kind of communication and I use through my paintings to portray something deeper, whether it be a social or personal issue.”