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KCAD Student Commissioned to Compose Portrait of Retired GR Police Chief

Posted March 4, 2014 in StudentIllustration

Beyond a realistic translation of form and figure, an exceptional portrait must also capture the essence of its subject. This is the unique challenge that KCAD student Mary Bowen now faces as she works to compose a portrait of Grand Rapids’ recently retired Chief of Police, Kevin Belk, a man who devoted 34 years of his life to serving and protecting his community.

The Committee to Honor César E. Chávez, an organization that Belk has worked closely with throughout his career, recently looked to KCAD for help commissioning the portrait, which will be presented to the former Chief of Police as a part of a special honor the Committee bestows annually upon a member of the Grand Rapids community who has dedicated themselves to serving the public good.

Mary Bowen will use this image of Retired Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk as the model for her portrait

KCAD students from a number of different majors submitted their best portrait work in a competition to determine the artist most suited for the job. In the end, jurors and KCAD faculty members Jon McDonald, Gypsy Schindler, and Tom Post chose Bowen because of the way in which her submissions (seen below) instilled life and emotional depth in their subjects.

Mary Bowen's winning portrait submissions.

Now, Bowen will be tasked with artistically encompassing a man whom Lupe Ramos-Montigny, Chair of The Committee to Honor Cesar E Chavez, says embodies Chavez’s legacy of justice, equality, and social responsibility.

“The Committee to Honor Cesar E. Chavez and Chief Belk have collaborated for many years, working hard to make this world a better place to live and finding ways to inform and educate our youth. Year after year, he has locked arms with us and walked down Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard in the name of social justice, and has always championed our mission with commitment, respect, and activism.”

Bowen will personally present the portrait to Chief Belk on March 20 during Social Justice Activities, an annual event organized by The Committee that begins with a march for social justice and culminates in a community gathering.

For event details, visit facebook.com/CommitteeToHonorCEC.