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Spicer Named Valedictorian of KCAD’s 2016 Graduating Class

KCADGRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University is pleased to announce Illustration student Brianna Spicer as the valedictorian of the college’s 2016 graduating class. Spicer, a 2012 graduate of Concord High School in Concord, Mich., will speak during KCAD’s commencement on May 7.

“Brianna is an outstanding student and a gifted artist with a bright future ahead of her, and KCAD is proud to name her as our 2016 Valedictorian,” said Interim Dean of the College Ron Riksen. “She is beyond deserving of the opportunity to represent this year’s graduating class.”

Professor and Illustration Program Chair Jon McDonald added, “Brianna is the total package when it comes to being a student. She is extremely intelligent and artistically talented. I had the privilege of teaching her in three courses, and she always asked intelligent questions and came up with wonderful solutions to the assignments. Brianna is a generous and well-thought-of artist who has earned our respect.”

Spicer said she discovered a penchant for drawing at an early age. Coupled with a love for reading fostered by her mother, a kindergarten teacher, Spicer’s creative drive led her to begin making her own storybooks at around age five.

“I knew I wanted to go to art school since I loved drawing and was recognized for it from an early age,” she said. “Drawing helped me to express myself to others. My elementary school teachers told me I’d be an author when I grew up because I was always writing, but I ended up being more interested in telling my stories visually instead.”

At Concord High School, art teacher Brian Couling motivated Spicer to continue developing her artistic skills. “Mr. Couling was a great art teacher, and he really encouraged me to look into KCAD. He was a big influence on my decision to come here,” she said.

Within the Illustration program at KCAD, Spicer has focused on creating work that contains a compelling visual narrative.  

“In my work, I think that a lot of the narrative comes through the composition and poses of the characters. It’s not so much about technique or color choice; it’s about what the characters are saying with their expressions,” she said. “In a book there’d be paragraphs and paragraphs about what a character is saying, thinking, feeling, and doing. In an illustration, a character’s face becomes a whole story in and of itself.”

Upon graduating, Spicer plans to work in children’s book illustration and cover design, but said she’s not opposed to applying her artistic skills anywhere in the realm of entertainment. She’s currently working on pitching a children’s book she created in a class at KCAD to publishing companies.

“The book is about a giant Mother Nature figure who takes care of all these woodland critters. They all have little problems she fixes. For instance, she’s trying to tuck the animals in for bed but the fox is scared of the dark, so Mother Nature places stars in the sky to make him feel safe,” Spicer said. “I based the character on my mother. Hopefully she will read it to her kindergarten class someday.”

You can learn more about Brianna Spicer and see further examples of her work at her website.

Work from Spicer and the rest of KCAD’s 2016 graduating class will be featured in a series of exhibitions beginning May 3. The Excellence Awards Exhibition (May 3-21), hosted in The Fed Galleries @ KCAD inside the college’s Woodbridge N. Ferris Building (17 Pearl St. NW), will showcase work from the 17 graduating seniors who have been named Excellence Award winners for 2016. Each year, those graduating students who exhibit a rare level of mastery and accomplishment in their chosen field receive this honor, the epitome of KCAD undergraduate student achievement.

The Fed Galleries will also be hosting the Master of Fine Arts and Master of Architecture Thesis Exhibitions (May 3-21), spotlighting the fully developed work of the 14 students who have completed their graduate studies. The Annual Student Exhibition (May 3-7), featuring work from each of the college’s programs, will encompass all floors of the 17 Fountain St. Building and Woodbridge N. Ferris Building.

Kendall Student Galleries

KCAD’s commencement will be held on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. Tickets are required.

PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured is Brianna Spicer.