GRCC student tries again – and succeeds



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

April 27, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids Community College student made sure his second try at college was a success.

Jonathan Lopez, a Rogers High School graduate, started attending GRCC in 2009. He wanted to study photography to improve his composition and lighting skills for animation.

“Initially, it was a solo experience,” he said. “I didn’t develop many relationships and I fizzled out. It wasn’t until the second time around, after dropping out for a year, that I focused on getting — and sharing — information from professors and other students. The photo department is all about sharing information and helping each other out.”

He became involved with campus activities and is now the photo editor for The Collegiate. The photography faculty and Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, Collegiate adviser, encouraged him to share his work with the campus and the community.

“Repeated exposure in the Collins Art Gallery, support from my professors to enter ArtPrize, the connections I made due to professors who gave me a foot in the door at TEDxGR and later SiTE:LAB — there’s a ton that happened thanks to the photo community,” said Lopez. “And because of that, I made my way over to the journalism department, became the photo editor, and I’m now getting my photographic work in front of even more people. There’s so many opportunities if you apply yourself.”

Filippo Tagliati, a faculty member in the visual arts department, said Lopez stood out for his talent, work habits, attention to detail and enthusiasm for learning new techniques.

“These characteristics, and classroom conversations, led Jonathan to recognize the importance of viewer interaction with his artwork,” Tagliati said. “He has displayed his work in the GRCC student art shows, Display magazine, was Artist of the Month with the GRCC Art Club, and has been an exhibiting artist in ArtPrize. These are great accomplishments for a student artist.”

Faculty member Scott Garrard said Lopez’s work “redefines the boundaries of art.”

“He challenges many genres — photography, digital, sculpture and animation are a just few of the processes he uses to create artworks with comical appearances, but in my opinion, have dark undertones that challenge the viewer to question societal issues,” Garrard said.

Lopez will receive his Associate of Arts degree during GRCC’s commencement at 7 p.m. May 1 in the Van Andel Arena, 130 Fulton St. W. He is leaving his future plans open.

“I’m uncertain of what the future has in store, but I am continuing my work in stop-motion animation, sculpture, illustration, photography and documentary work,” he said. “Immediately following graduation, I will be working on my largest ArtPrize project to date.”

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.