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Inspiration everywhere: ACT apprentice Reed Lewis

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Take a closer look at art apprentice Reed Lewis – his inspiration, his creation, and his goals.
Reed during an in-process install of his work at Cerasus Studio

Reed during an in-process install of his work at Cerasus Studio

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.

Reed working with paint during a free art session

Reed working with paint during a free art session

Reed Lewis

Reed Lewis

“I’m more of a do-er. I like to create.”

On a Thursday morning in January, the ACT apprentices were installing their artwork at Cerasus Studio for their upcoming art show. We caught Reed Lewis that morning and got the chance to talk to him about the program and his art process. Reed is one of the eight artists from the apprenticeship program, launched in October, designed to provide high caliber, intensive art apprenticeships to eight young artists with disabilities from the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Community Transition Campus.

Lewis has said that he finds inspiration everywhere. Often, his work is inspired by the world around him, in architecture and city landscapes. Lewis was born and raised in Walker, Michigan and has been creating art since early elementary school. He now spends most of his time in Grand Rapids, where he finds immediate inspiration. Reed captures the modern world with his artwork, including cars, modern buildings, and cityscapes, to emulate what initially inspired him to create art.

“I have an idea and I get it in my head,” Reed shared. “I make it one of a kind.”

Reed primarily does drawings, sketching in pencil and then layering on top with sharpie or ink pens. One of his more recent pieces, “Twilight,” features an ink-etched skyline, resting on a streak of light pink watercolor. The piece is both simple and captivating, using Reed’s inspiration and splashes of color to draw viewers in. Reed describes his artwork as “not too messy; not too neat” – his artwork rings with a certain exact truth that makes it compelling.

Since starting the apprenticeship program, Reed has been able to fully create the things that have inspired him. His pieces so far have featured everyday items, such as washing machines, birds-eye views of familiar neighborhoods, favorite albums, and of course, Reed’s favorite – architecture. In each piece, Reed pays careful attention to his lines and colors. His favorite mediums in the program have been ink and watercolor, uniting to be both harsh and gentle.

“I want my art to make people feel better,” Reed shared about people viewing his art. “Because it makes me feel better.”

As the program continues, Reed plans to keep developing his skills. He wants to focus on what he is good at, what he finds interest in, and continue perfecting his own artistic ability until he is fully satisfied with his work. It’s a level of personal satisfaction – being content that his art reflects the inspiration he finds everywhere.

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 Reed’s artwork on display, as well as the other apprentices, on the following dates:

March 28th-30th – ACTion Art Exhibit, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., GRAM Alticor Garden Room & Betz Studio, 101 Monroe Center St. NW

April 21st – Reception at The Factory, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m., 38 West Fulton Street, Suite 400

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

To support Reed and his artwork, visit

This article is part 3 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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