The Rapidian

Beauty, abstract: ACT apprentice Mary Scovel

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Take a closer look at ACT apprentice Mary Scovel - her inspiration, her creation, and her goals.
Mary Scovel

Mary Scovel

About the apprenticeship program

ACT’s apprenticeship program is designed to provide high caliber, intensive art apprenticeships to eight young artists with disabilities from the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Transition Campus. Artists are gaining experience under the direction of professional teaching artist Becky Baker.

Mary's piece, "The Bright Sun"

Mary's piece, "The Bright Sun"

Mary's piece, "Blending Colors"

Mary's piece, "Blending Colors"

“Art is my favorite thing to do. I keep doing it because I enjoy it.”

Mary Scovel was in the midst of free art journaling when we asked her if she would be able to talk with us about her art and the apprenticeship program. Mary was more than happy to oblige us and take time away from learning under one of ACT’s guest artists to speak on her craft.

Mary is just one of eight from the ACT apprenticeship program, launched in October, designed to provide high caliber, intensive art apprenticeships to young artists with disabilities from the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Community Transition Campus. So far, she has enjoyed her time with the program and what it offers those who are involved.

“I like creating stuff,” Mary explained. “I like that the program lets me create.”

Mary’s favorite mediums include photography, drawing, and chalk, but photography was her first real love in art. Her first encounter with photography was during a class from ACT in 2011, where a teaching artist taught the basics of navigating a camera and taking unique shots. Immediately, Mary fell in love with capturing the beauty and color in the world around her.

Since her encounter with photography, Mary has been applying her natural artistic eye to capturing these images on the page. During the apprenticeship program, she has turned to drawing and painting images that represent the beauty of the natural world, but with a spin. When asked about her painting process, Mary explains that she sketches inspirational images first, and then paints on top to make the image come alive. She says she is drawn to people and shadows that she sees, but when she puts them on the page, she likes to highlight contrasting colors to make it her own.

“I like to photograph sunsets, and then I draw the sunsets,” Mary said.

One of Mary’s most well-known pieces from the program has been an abstract painting of a sun, titled “The Bright Sun.” The piece features an abstract bright yellow sun in the center, but with an almost watercolor-like effect that bleeds to the edge of the page. To contrast, several darker colors cut into the sun, accentuating the sun and adding more interesting depth to the piece.

With her art, Mary hopes to send a message to her friends and family about how much she likes creating art. Overall, Mary says that she wants people to feel good seeing her art, because it has brought her intense joy to create.

Through the apprenticeship program, the artists are able to work and train under a teacher who has experience as a professional artist. They will gain experience in arts administration, professional development and artistic training. Through gaining this experience, the artists learn crucial skills for their careers in art, such as writing an artists' statement, marketing work on social media, and displaying work, as well as honing their natural artistic ability.

The ACT Apprentices will be holding several art shows this spring. Join us to see Mary’s artwork on display, as well as the seven other apprentices, at the final reception, celebrating the apprentices and all their hard work:

Thursday, April 27th at Lions & Rabbits, 1264 Plainfield Ave. NE, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

To support Mary and her artwork, visit

This article is part 5 of 8 in ACT’s series highlighting each individual apprentice throughout the coming weeks. This program is provided as part of a contract with VSA at the Kennedy Center. Follow ACT on Facebook to stay tuned to learn more about the other apprentices.

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