When painter and art educator Vicky Frankland, ‘98 moved out to Portland in 2005, education wasn’t exactly a growing field. Despite having 15 years of teaching experience in Hart and Muskegon, the jobs just weren’t there.
“The year we moved to Portland, they closed two elementary schools and laid off several teachers.”
With no available teaching positions, Frankland took a managing position at Walgreens “to pay the bills” but still maintained a growing art portfolio. After a few years of living in Portland, she and her husband decided to buy a house, complete with a new puppy—a gift from her two daughters. While homeownership aided Frankland and her family in putting down roots in Portland, it gave Frankland little time to paint.
“It may sound crazy to those who have not raised a dog or owned a house, but it is so much work. You end up putting a lot of your energy into it.”
After a couple years and the house, dog, and family had been situated, Frankland decided it was time to put herself and her artwork back into the artistic scene. Using the networking skills she had learned at Grand Valley, she got involved with local artists and participated in a few art shows. Now that her artistic appetite had been roused, she wanted more. After answering an ad for a short film by Christen Kimbell, Frankland found it: both an outlet for her artistic expression and a way to use her background in art education.
“I was looking for open calls and saw Christen Kimbell’s posting for an artist,” Frankland said. “I sent her some samples of my work. We met within two weeks and she hired me for the project.”
The project is a short film based on the children’s book The Box written by Bruce Coville. In the story, a little boy is visited by and angel and given a box to protect. Throughout many years of his life, the boy tries to paint the angel to prove to others that the event took place. For the film, this meant hiring three actors to play the main character. For Frankland, this meant three oil paintings and numerous sketches that each take weeks to create. It was her job not only to provide these paintings, but also to teach the three actors how to paint to make it look like they had created the pieces. The art educator had few problems putting her “instructor hat” back on and felt the pull of her former career steering her back to teaching. But not in an academic environment.
Instead of teaching people to paint, Frankland’s next project will be teaching people with her paintings. In keeping with the philanthropic standards she learned while studying at Grand Valley, she and close friend Molly Jochim will put together a show that captures and promotes the many parks in Portland; the intention being to increase awareness of nature, conservation, and the world around us. The idea came to her after spending many afternoons in the parks with her dog.
“I started painting them: what they look like to my dog, what they look like to me. Then it occurred to me that I could do a show about them.” Frankland attributes her success, professional confidence, and humanitarianism to the instruction and education she received at GVSU.
“I feel like I received an incredible education,” she said. “Everyone in the program is amazing. Once I left the program, it wasn’t like I was leaving alone.”
Since moving to Portland, she has felt the network of individuals who want to aid their fellow Lakers. Upon hearing of her park project, she was contacted by fellow artist and GVSU alumnus Mark Rumsey, ’98 who will also participate. Frankland and Jochim plan to put on the show in the spring of 2013. A percentage of the proceeds will go to benefit the local parks department in Portland. To learn more about the film, visit www.indiegogo.com/theboxmovie.
Update June 2012.