Last semester, art students in Brett Colley’s GVSU class on printmaking, invited me to come talk about the Grand Rapids People’s History Project. The intent of the class was to have students investigate their own part of a People’s History of Grand Rapids and then make a print based upon an individual social movement or a particular moment in Grand Rapids history.
This print is by Amelia Cleveland and focuses on the history of the LGBTQ community in Grand Rapids. The print is based on two aspects of the local LGBTQ history. First, the Mayor of Grand Rapids in 1988 was Gerald Helmholt, who refused to endorse the first Pride Celebration in this community. Interestingly enough, in the following year, the Mayor of Holland sent a letter of endorsement of the Pride Celebration in Grand Rapids, even though most people would have considered Grand Rapids to be the more progressive community.
The print by Amelia Cleveland juxtaposes these two very different responses from two elected officials in West Michigan. For more details on this history go to this link.