Big Rapids grad becomes first Artist-in-Residence for Artworks

According to the Artworks website, the Artist-in-Residence Program is an eight-week summer opportunity for visual artists enrolled in accredited Michigan undergraduate or graduate programs. It offers an on-site immersion program to learn about art retail, gallery stewardship, community arts education and outreach.

Kailing explained that her adviser to Aquinas, Chris LaPorte, was on the board of directors of Artworks, and he approached her to be the first member of that program.

“He thought I would be a good fit since I’m from Big Rapids, and I hope he’s confident in my abilities as an artist. I thought it was a great opportunity because I’m at eight kilometers and I don’t mind being the feeler of this program.

Kailings has always been interested in art since she was a child. She followed her passion to Aquinas College, where she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in engraving and a secondary in painting.

“Usually I focus more on my comfort, which is more about realism and copying details for detailed photos, but I try to branch out into different styles and mediums and try to find my voice. So, it was a big challenge with that.

One of Kailing’s favorite pieces is called Crave, which features an outstretched hand towards a moth. She said it was symbolic of her desire to change and grow as a person and as an artist.

“I just thought it was a really big fight for me because I still fall back on what I usually like to paint and draw, but I’m just trying to branch out and become the person you want to be. and all this anxiety and everything. This piece is for me one of my favorites.

Usually, Kailing doesn’t attribute much meaning to her paintings, stating that the art generally feels forced when she tries to make sense of the pieces.

“Sometimes you just have to start painting and see where it goes and it becomes a lot more meaningful.”

Kailing hopes people can tap into their own feelings.

“I hope they can relate to it in some way. I was talking to people at the opening, and there were a few people who were very receptive to certain pieces. Some of them they made them recognize some mental illness or, as you know, anxiety or whatever, and it really calmed them down.

Kailing saw some of his art catch viewers’ attention. In fact, she was able to sell to two art collectors last month. One being from Maine and the other from Illinois.

“I don’t like to say it, but one of them apparently said that person was moving, and that made me feel good.”

Looking to the future, Kailing leaves all options on the table.

“I’ll look for any art position that’s open at all. I’m not picky. I was thinking maybe working in a museum or some other gift shop. Instead of maybe being an artist , I would help facilitate other artists.

To view the work of Kailing, among other artists, visiting hours for the artworks are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Kailings’ artwork will be on display until October 8. For more information, visit

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