The Rapidian

Tactile Creations: ACT Apprentice Jasmine Kelley

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Take a closer look at art apprentice Jasmine Kelley – her inspiration, her creation, and her goals.
Jasmine Kelley working on a clay project

Jasmine Kelley working on a clay project

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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 a professional teaching artist.

Jasmine Kelley

Jasmine Kelley

ACT Apprentices installing their work at Cerasus Studio

ACT Apprentices installing their work at Cerasus Studio

“I’m making art that people can touch. Art that says please touch.”

We sat down with Jasmine Kelley at Cerasus Studio one early Thursday morning during an install for an art show featuring the apprenticeship program from Artists Creating Together (ACT). Jasmine 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’ Transition Campus.

Jasmine Kelley has described her work as being driven by feeling, using 3-dimensional media such as fabric, foam, and texture-based items to create what feels right to her. As she makes her pieces, she relies on touch. Being from Grand Rapids, Michigan, most of her work is influenced by the city of Grand Rapids and the different major events that make Grand Rapids culture so artistic.

According to Jasmine, events like ArtPrize can be frustrating because she relies on touch to experience art, and artwork on display is often off-limits for tactile people. This frustration is what drives Jasmine to create inclusive art that relies on touching and feeling, so that people with visual impairments or other disabilities are able to enjoy and create art.

Since starting the apprenticeship program, Jasmine has been working on making tactile art a reality. Even when she is working with painting or 2-dimensional media, she uses layers and textures to bring the piece to life in her hands. One of her favorite pieces she’s created is called “The Fabric of Happy” – a multimedia piece that combines fabrics, stamps, paint, and more.

“I really like the program,” Jasmine shared. “I like the art I’ve been making, and I’m excited to learn how to make clay.”

Because she is a very tactile person, Jasmine is extremely sensitive and struggles with some of the more tactile forms of art, including clay and other messy media. One of her goals for the apprenticeship program is to overcome her fear of messy forms of art, so she can truly create based on what she feels.

“I want people to ask how I make my art,” Jasmine said. “So I can tell them through touch and feel. Because that’s how I see art.”

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

April 21st – Reception at the Factory

April 27th – Reception at Lines and Rabbits

To support Jasmine and her artwork, visit

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