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In constant growth: ACT apprentice Chris Overway

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Take a closer look at ACT apprentice Chris Overway - his inspiration, his creation, and his goals.
Chris Overway

Chris Overway

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.

Chris reviewing his own personal logo

Chris reviewing his own personal logo

Notecard prints of Chris's piece, "Chris Art 2" - available for purchase on the apprentice store

Notecard prints of Chris's piece, "Chris Art 2" - available for purchase on the apprentice store

“I will continue doing art and creating.”

Chris Overway was in the midst of wrapping up some of his semester-long projects when we asked him if he would be able to talk with us about his art and the apprenticeship program. Chris was more than happy to multitask between his multimedia project and speaking on his craft.

Chris 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, he has enjoyed his time with the program and what it offers those who are involved.

“I like seeing all the artwork,” Chris said about the apprenticeship program’s shows at different galleries across Grand Rapids. “It feels real.”

Chris has been creating art since he was 5 years old. As a child growing up in Cedar Springs, Chris was immediately drawn to art and specifically enjoyed drawing. Since then, he has been pulling inspiration from his childhood and the world around him, drawing pictures that evoked his parents and parts of nature. As his artistic drive grew, he began working with both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional mediums, now being interested in both drawing and clay.

The particular morning that we interviewed Chris, the apprentices also worked with ACT teaching artist Nora Faber, most well-known for her clayboard pieces that are driven by her faith and grace. During the class, Nora showed the ACT apprentices her process and different tools she uses, providing more opportunities for the apprentices to explore the artistry and creativity.

Chris in particular was drawn to the religious imagery in Nora’s work, stating that he uses religious symbols in artwork to create deeper meanings. His other greatest influences are his friends, his girlfriend, the sun, and basketball. During our interview, we asked Chris what his favorite creation from this semester was.

“I like making this,” Chris said, pointing to his current project, a multimedia textured 3-dimensional piece covered with a vibrant green. In the piece, Chris had combined construction paper, tissue paper, beads, and paint to create a piece that pops to life.

After the program, Chris will be graduating and moving onto Grand Rapids Community College, where he wants to continue doing art. Ultimately Chris says he wants to sell his art and do it professionally, because it is his ultimate passion. Regardless of the circumstances, Chris will find inspiration and find a way 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.

While the apprentices have wrapped up their semester and their shows, you can support Chris and his artwork by visiting

This article is part 8 of 8 in ACT’s series highlighting each individual apprentice throughout the previous 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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