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Screwed Rapids at the UICA

Screwed's more than just a mural. It's improv, performance and collaboration all rolled into one. Featuring a video of the artists talking about their work.
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The Screwed Arts Collective

The Screwed Arts Collective at work. Shown, from left to right, Stan Chisholm, Jason Spencer and Justin Tolentino.

The Screwed Arts Collective at work. Shown, from left to right, Stan Chisholm, Jason Spencer and Justin Tolentino. /Elizabeth Winkelman

Interview with ArtPrize artists, The Screwed Arts Collective, about their collaborative piece at the UICA and learning that it’s more about the process than the product.


If you take a walk up Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids and happen to peek into the large windows of the new UICA building, you cannot miss the work being done by The Screwed Arts Collective. The side door is open to the UICA and the artists are willing and eager to talk to you while they work. Climbing up ladders and standing on cherry-pickers, various members work on different parts of the mural, using mainly latex paint. Some paint with brushes; some drip the paint onto the wood and others use stencils to create bold, graphic elements. The group even utilizes projectors to enlarge images onto the mural. They may even ask to photograph you and then collage that photo into the composition. The piece being created on-site by the group takes up the entire wall, from hand rail height all the way up to the ceiling, and runs the entire length of that side of the building’s interior. The color palette is primary, using only shades of each color to give depth and define space. This piece is so much more than a huge mural on a wall. It’s part improvisation. It’s part collaboration. It’s part performance. It’s spontaneous and planned. It’s private and public. It relies on the viewer to interact and become part of the piece.


Before I started my interview with some of the group members, I stood there watching, listening and admiring. I watched them work out details and apply stencils to the wall. I listened to the decisions being made about color, composition and what the piece “needed.” I admired their process, their heart for creation and their willingness and openness to talk about their installation. To be honest, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview them.


Something about their style of work intrigued me. It wasn’t so much the end product, but rather the process that created it. I find it fascinating. Being an artist myself, I love to learn how others come up with ideas, how they work, and how they see these ideas to fruition. Watching the group work together and independently is just as important as seeing the finished mural. The conversations I had as well as the conversations that the artists engaged in with others influenced the content and the process. The theme that was mentioned was a "parade." Not only was The Screwed Arts Collective being watched through huge glass windows but they, in turn, could watch the parade of people in downtown Grand Rapids. It is this relaltionship between artist and viewer that Screwed Rapids captures. The work is site specific; created on-site for the space at the UICA. While the theme and color pallete were pre-determined, the actual content was not. The composition came to life as the artists viewed the life, listened to the people and noises in their surroundings, and felt the energy surrounding ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.


The group orignated in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2008, they had their first show, Screwed In, at the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2010, they had their second group exhibition, Screwed AgainArtPrize 2011 at the UICA is the group’s third show together. The Screwed Arts Collective currently has nine members: Christopher Burch, Stan Chisholm, Kris Mosby, Justin Tolentino, Jason Spencer, Daniel Jefferson, Daniel Burnett, Christopher Harris and Bryan Walsh. I had the privilege of interviewing three of the nine members, Stan Chisholm, Bryan Walsh and Justin Tolentino. Their responses to my questions have been captured in the video above.

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Thanks Winkelmans :)