News Bites: KCAD Alum, Current Students Lead Local Youth in Grand Rapids Mural Project

Posted July 18, 2016 in Alumni, Master of Fine Arts, Painting, Graphic Design, Student, Drawing

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) alumnus Ricardo Gonzalez (’16, MFA Painting) and students David Frison IV (Graphic Design) and Raquel Silva (Drawing) recently partnered with the Hispanic Center of West Michigan and the Cook Arts Center to transform a building on Grandville Avenue in Grand Rapids into a work of art.

Mural project designed by KCAD students and alumniGraphic Design student David Frison IV (left) and alumnus Ricardo Gonzalez (right) in front of the completed mural 

Students from the Cook Arts Center spent several months working with Frison IV, Silva, and members of the local community to design a mural that reflected the cultural heritage of the neighborhood in which it would reside. Cook Arts Center Program Director Steffanie Rosalez says the majority of the time was spent brainstorming to make sure the purpose of the mural went beyond mere aesthetics.

“We asked the kids, ‘What do you think are images that represent this neighborhood? What images come to mind when you think of the word hope? What do we want this to represent? What is it about? When people see it, what do we want them to think or feel?’”

Gonzalez, who worked with students from the Cook Arts Center to create a mural at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) in the winter of 2015, was brought in to help execute the design.

mural designed by KCAD students and alumni

mural designed by KCAD students and alumni

“Our theme ended up being unity amongst Latinx or Latina/o people in the southwest side of the neighborhood,” Gonzalez says. “We wanted to promote positivity and respect amongst the neighborhood members. It is the neighborhood’s way of reinforcing identity and reflection.”

Gonzalez led the students through the two-month painting process on the 40’ x 100’ wall, starting at the beginning of May and finishing the last week of June.

In the fall, the interior of the building will be home to an extensive ArtPrize entry featuring several local artists and performers over the course of the event. Eventually, the owner plans to use the building as an open-air market to serve the people in the area. The colorful mural will remain in the neighborhood as a testament to the power of collaboration and cooperation in the community.

mural designed by KCAD students and alumni

See the mural in person at 912 Grandville Avenue SW in Grand Rapids.  

To see more work by Ricardo Gonzalez, visit

To learn more about the Cook Arts Center and the Hispanic Center of West Michigan and how to get involved with their programs, visit them online.