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Kaleidoscope of feeling: ACT apprentice Tyler Vonitter

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Take a closer look at art apprentice Tyler Vonitter – his inspiration, his creation, and his goals.
ACT apprentice Tyler Vonitter

ACT apprentice Tyler Vonitter

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.

Tyler with the other Juror's Choice winners at ACTion Art 2016

Tyler with the other Juror's Choice winners at ACTion Art 2016

Part of Tyler's "Kaleidoscope" collection, displayed at ACTion Art 2016

Part of Tyler's "Kaleidoscope" collection, displayed at ACTion Art 2016

“I want my art to be like a kaleidoscope. I want people to look at it and see different things.”

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

Tyler is just one of the 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.

“The apprenticeship program is a very good program,” Tyler told us. “I like being able to do art all the time.”

A self-taught artist from Middleville, Michigan, Tyler was first inspired by a trip to a museum when he was six and seeing other artists work. Now, he creates his own art and has received the credit his hard work deserves. Tyler was previously selected as one of three of the jurors’ choice winners for the ACTion Art exhibit in 2016, which secured Tyler a sponsorship to for ArtPrize 2016, where his work was displayed in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

“I was totally surprised that I won [ACTion Art],” Tyler explained. “Being in ArtPrize was like hitting the jackpot.” While winning might have been a surprise for Tyler, it was hardly a surprise to those who had the chance to look at his pieces.

Tyler is most well-known for the style captured in his collection “Kaleidoscope”: abstract motifs of tight and unique shapes drawn on notebook paper with Sharpie and colored markers. Tyler has likened this work for its similarity to stained glass windows of churches, where the colors bring light and movement to the “shards” of sharpie. The differing color palettes give each piece a different mood that Tyler hopes audiences will feel within each piece.

Tyler has expanded his “Kaleidoscope” collection from five pieces to fifteen, and even now, they are still his favorite work to do. However, he is branching out and trying new techniques, including painting.

When asked about how he feels about how far he’s come as an artist, Tyler replied that it’s “still more of a work-in-progress.” Despite his success already, Tyler constantly strives for improvement of himself as an artist and his art as his craft. We look forward to seeing him grow, and we know the apprenticeship program will provide him the creative space to help him do so.

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

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

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

To support Tyler and his artwork, visit

This article is part 4 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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