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The Gallery at Marygrove College presents “Identify” as their senior art exhibition for 2015. At the opening reception this Saturday, April 18, it is to be a show that not only represents what people are creating in our city, Detroit, but what our city, Detroit, can create in its people.

Art therapy senior, Jennifer Awad, is an international student and artist from Toronto, Canada at Marygrove College. She was serendipitously drawn to Detroit to pursue her ode to staying present and to also grow artistically. Her identity has certainly been affected by our city. She uses paint, among the hands of gifted children and adults from The Children’s Center, to create a mural called, “I Am.”

“We’re all in a struggle, but its about staying present and understanding that within the struggle, when you’re present to the struggle, you can discover answers,” said Awad.

Her storyline does express darker elements, but will resonate more so in the joy that is finally emerging from that darkness by choosing to stay present. Expressed in her mural are issues in autism, psychosis, sexual abuse, and family.

“The children have struggled, but the beauty of it is working through these issues by painting, as a more positive platform to express emotions.”

Stylistically in her mural and installation, Awad has started using more graffiti and a street art vibes as an homage to Detroit for its impact on her.

“I loved it so much. It has seeped its way into my style. My art is still textural and high saturation of color, but new because of my time in Detroit.”

Her mural is 22 x 8 feet high. Her installation is in the form of a 3-D boat, fabricated from scratch. “It is whimsical and dream-like, which has to do with the concept being abstract and ambiguous, about coming through the waves [of life] and landing on shore. The ship holds components of the past, present, future,” said Awad. “You’ll see the colors are very, very bright. It’s about the joy of it. The joy of it.”

Among Awad, other art, and art and science majors will feature different sectors of art: photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture, digital media, installation, spoken word, and mural to depict their discovery of identity. Universal Connections, Voice, Heritage, Recovery, “The Struggle,” “I Am,” and Grief title the artist’s journeys toward a more resilient Human Spirit, and their own interpretation of what it means to identify.

“We just want people to come and experience it for themselves. Come see what local artists are doing. Even though we’re students, we are artists outside of school,” said Awad.

The opening reception is this Saturday, April 18 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served. The show is running through May 2, Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. each day. Located in the Liberal Arts Building 8425 W. McNichols, Detroit, Michigan, 48221.