Two Honors College Students Awarded Micro-Grants for Projects

February 2, 2021 - Asia Siev

Emma Stoolmaker, "En Route, 2020"
Emma Stoolmaker, "En Route, 2020" 



This summer, two Honors College Students, Emma Stoolmaker and Jason Dernay, were awarded $500 micro-grants for their projects. The Create! Micro-Grant Program asked students to respond critically and imaginatively to events occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Emma Stoolmaker, "En Route, 2020"
Emma Stoolmaker, "En Route, 2020" 

Emma Stoolmaker is a junior, pursuing a degree in Art Education. In early 2020, Stoolmaker was on a study abroad trip in Rome. Her project, “"En Route, 2020" is a response to dealing with the pandemic in a foreign country. “It’s about the friendships I made when I was there and the experiences that I had that I never really got to complete in person. The project was a way for me to find closure,” she said. 

“En Route, 2020” is a mixed media collage, a postcard to her loved ones in Rome. The base layer is scanned copies of letters Stoolmaker exchanged with her friends. On top of that is a scene depicting her favorite part of the city, with a map of Rome over top. “I wanted to include a lot of elements and imagery that reminded me of my time there,” Stoolmaker said. 

Jason Dernay is a fourth year BFA Acting and BA Management student. Dernay, along with fellow BFA Acting student Nate Davis, created a podcast, "The Art of Adaptation.” The podcast is interview based and looks at the ways different members of the artistic community are being or have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to offer a view to what struggles, what successes, and what the future might look like for different areas of art,” Dernay said. The guests featured come from a wide array of the arts community from Kellyn Uhl, a dance-movement therapist working in a Michigan hospital to a Grand Rapids-based alternative band called Anonymous Phone Call. 

The Art of Adaptation


For Dernay, the most surprising aspect was, “find[ing] people not just surviving, but thriving during this time. Finding all different ways to adapt and overcome and create new mediums that are more approachable and more reachable on the wide scale.” The podcast episode with Liz Cooke, the Artistic Director of All of Us Express in East Lansing, discusses the way an online format has changed classes. Without physical distance and transportations as barriers, All of Us Express has been able to serve a greater number of students in their classes.

Both Stoolmaker and Dernay’s projects are available online in the Create! Micro-Grant virtual gallery. You can stream the “Art of Adaptation” on Spotify or their website