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ArtPrize entry brings healing to troubled Ottawa County teens

• Sep 20, 2018 at 7:00 AM

A sculpture created by teen girls in an Ottawa County residential treatment program has been entered in the ArtPrize 10 youth collaboration division.

The 3-D sculpture, called “Masked,” was created by the girls who are court-ordered into the county's Lighthouse Program. They used plaster and acrylic paint.

Lighthouse treats adolescent girls, ages 11-17, within the detention center who have experienced trauma and the resulting mental and behavioral challenges.

The masks are a therapeutic expression of the girls’ pain and suffering. They are also evidence of the girls’ hopes and visions of their lives without these negative experiences, program officials say.

The arts therapy functions as a conduit for helping the girls create a brighter future for themselves.

“This experience has taught me how I truly feel deep inside and that I used to hold on to so much,” said a girl named Destiny. “It would drag me down way deep inside. I have learned I have the strength to overcome it all.”

The girls worked with Superintendent of Detention Bob Alward, art teacher Angie Briggs-Johnson and program supervisor Michelle Anguiano to complete the project.

ArtPrize 10 opened Wednesday and runs through Oct. 7.

“Masked” can be viewed on the third floor of the B.O.B. in Grand Rapids. The young artists and county staff were present on the opening afternoon to talk with the public about their entry.

The sculpture is the second entry into ArtPrize for the Ottawa County Juvenile Detention Center residents. A large mural that represented multi-culturalism was entered into the 2009 ArtPrize.

The residents have also created ceramic soup bowls for an auction that supported God’s Kitchen.

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