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May 2, 2016
Grand Rapids student artists to be featured at Vikings' Stadium


Student works on pointilism18 student artists from GRHS and RJEMS will have their work featured in a permanent display at the new Viking’s stadium. All of the artists are also athletes and the pieces chosen are portraits of famous players who participate in the same sport. “It’s really special, it brings two things I really like, sports and the arts, together,” said Lucia Wyland.

And, the kids are thrilled to be a part of it. Annalie Marinuuci, a 10th grader who plays hockey and is on the swim team explained, “You don’t get an opportunity like this every day, it’s once in a lifetime.” 

"When I submitted an application to the Minnesota Vikings Fine Art callout, I knew it was a shot in the dark but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn't pass up. Hundreds of professional artists submitted applications. We are the only students and are also one of the only artists selected from northern Minnesota! The new stadium is hosting the International Soccer Cup 2016, Super Bowl 2017, NCAA Final Four Basketball 2018, plus all home Minnesota Vikings football games. Literally millions of people will get to view our students' artwork for years and years to come. The recognition and legacy this leaves for our ISD 318 students and all of us here in Grand Rapids will last for generations," explained RJE Middle School Art Teacher Nikki Lehtinen.

The work will be debuted when the stadium opens this July and will be on permanent display throughout the building. “This is an opportunity for Minnesotans and Vikings fans to further impact the design of this stadium with artwork that...celebrates the many attributes of this state and region," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf on the Vikings' website.

The artists create their portraits using photorealist techniques made famous by artist Chuck Close. The students have taken a photograph of their chosen athlete and transformed it painstakingly into a portrait of varying hues. The artists transfer and enlarge each inch of the photograph using a grid to focus the shapes and lines. “The technique forces you to become a better observer,” said Lehtinen. Parker Aultman, one of the eight 8th graders to be selected to participate, explained that the technique is tough, but once you get used to it, it becomes easier to move forward. 

Aultman, who has created a portrait of Kevin McHale, immediately shared the news of his selection with his family. “I went right home to tell my family, we’re really honored that I get to be a part of it,” he said.