Alison Wabeke

Alison Wabeke

Alison Wabeke is a local artist who has participated in seven ArtPrize events. Below she reflects on how she draws inspiration from the event for her own practice.


In 2009 I was in college when my Grandma called my dorm phone to tell me about this new thing called ArtPrize coming to Grand Rapids. She had seen a newspaper advertisement and had cut it out for me. I looked into it but thought that it wouldn’t be anything big—probably just another small art show. I was also a typical broke student and didn’t have $50 for the entry fee. 

I was in awe when ArtPrize exploded that first year. I felt like I was in heaven—I could walk anywhere in the city and see all kinds of new art and there were other people there looking at it too! Each night I would rush home, open my sketch book, and sketch new ideas inspired by what I had seen that day. 

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I submitted something the second year of ArtPrize and couldn’t believe when I was accepted to a small church venue. When I registered at the meet and greet artist event, an ArtPrize employee told me I was one of the youngest artists there and introduced me to one of the oldest artists – an 80-something-year-old woman who looked very out of place at the B.O.B. Like a typical introverted artist, I fumbled around until I found a vacant seat to people watch—accidentally sitting next to a very famous artist who had traveled from Asia to participate in ArtPrize. He was shocked I didn’t know who he was. As I began awkwardly introducing myself, the local TV networks walked up and began filming an interview with him. I remember feeling in awe again of where I was and who I was talking to in that moment as I precariously tried to lean out of the shot of the camera. 

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This will be my seventh year as an artist participating in ArtPrize. I’m now well out of college, work full time, and teach private art lessons on the side to help kids capture this love of art. I use ArtPrize as a platform to tell a story through art—a story that I want thousands of people to see. Each year at ArtPrize I’m still in awe, and I still rush home every night to fill my sketchbook with new ideas inspired by artists from around the world.

All photos courtesy of Alison Wabeke.

ArtPrize Staff

ArtPrize Staff

Keyon Lovett

Keyon Lovett