Art of Faith at Art Prize

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Jan Maureen and the fear breakerArtist Jan Maureen and her Art Prize entry “The Fear Breaker”Jan Maureen Nosakowski refers to herself as an artist who happens to be a Christian, rather than a "Christian artist."

"I guess there are some people in the world who are turned off by the phrase 'Christian artist,'" she said from her southeast Michigan home. "But really, I couldn't do any of my art without Him (God).

Her inspiration is exemplified in her Art Prize exhibit "Safari Series" – four related pieces on display at the lobby of the 234 Market Apartments venue in downtown Grand Rapids (Art Prize runs through Oct. 3 – more info at

Jan Maureen (the name she often uses professionally) is a mixed media collage artist and uses various mediums in her two-dimensional work.

"For paint I like acrylic, but also use pen and ink, pencil, vintage or burned paper and occasional other items," she noted.

The result is a multi-layered and highly textured finish.

The centerpiece of her Safari Series is a face-first look of a lion, a piece Jan calls "Fear Breaker."


"I have him (the lion) looking like he is coming out of a place with fire-burned edges," she said. "He's coming through and burning away the fear – he's the fear breaker."

A faith connection: in the Narnia book series by author C.S. Lewis, the God-figure is pictured as a lion named Aslan.

In the upper right of the art work are tucked words from a poem about truth taking away fear, suggesting the biblical phrase that "perfect love casts out fear."

The other three pieces in the series feature a zebra, giraffe and elephant.

Maureen displayed a single painting at Art Prize three years ago. This year she connected with a first-time venue at 234 Market Ave. SW. Her husband Steve, also an artist, has three resin "table-scapes" exhibited there.

"I haven't been to Grand Rapids much and don't know a lot of places there," she said. "But the people there (at the 234 venue) have been good to work with."

Throughout Art Prize's more than 950 pieces scattered among 144 venues, there is artwork which could be clearly labeled as "religious art." That would include some of the pieces displayed at the four participating churches (see below).

But Maureen says her faith touches all her work, whether religious- looking or not. "It doesn't have to be a dove, or lion or Jesus on the cross," she reasoned of her choice of subjects. "Some people don't even want to look at art of Jesus on the cross. But (artwork) can be of things that attract a wide variety of people."


John Katerberg is a lifelong resident of West Michigan and a graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design. In previous Art Prize years he has displayed paintings such as scenes from the life of the biblical prophet Daniel, and an abstract Christ-figure titled "Made Into Sin."

But this year the military combat veteran offers a three-fold display of outdoor scenes from his home state. "Postcards From Home" can be seen at Veterans Memorial Park on Sheldon Ave. NE near E. Fulton. They recall postcards he received that encouraged him while he was on active duty during Desert Storm and in Afghanistan. (See him tell his story at

According to the artist, the golden tones prominent in the work "identify God's design and presence in everything seen and unseen."

If you like to seek out the church venues, below is a list of those (and one ministry non-profit) participating in 2021 Art Prize.

First United Methodist, 227 E. Fulton St; First Park Congregational, 10 E. Park PL NE, Fountain St. Church, 24 Fountain St NE, Monroe Community Church (in its new facility 1020 Monroe Ave. NW), and Heartside Ministry, 54 S. Division Ave.

Several churches previously part of Art Prize, such as Central Reformed and Cornerstone-Heritage Hill Campus, are not in this time around.


Art Prize officials have dropped the voting process in connection with cash awards. There is an interactive web-app (referred to as "the game") where viewers can access via a QR code. A visitor can occasionally snag a modest cash award which can be granted to a particular artist. Maureen won a $250 prize through this method. The regular grand prize is $50K with a separate juried prize of the same amount.

Another difference is that smart phone or other online users can put in an auction bid for buying a piece of art, or even purchase it for a "buy it now" price, similar to eBay. Maureen's Safari Series work is among those. Visit Art Prize runs through Oct. 3. Prize winners will be announced in ceremonies Oct. 1.

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Author: Terry DeBoer
Terry is a journalist/feature writer for newspapers, magazines and websites, with a background in radio broadcasting. His usual beat is arts and entertainment, specializing in Christian/gospel music. A married father of two, he is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan Contributing Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present Feature writer: (website and various newspapers) 1988– 2016 -Spotlight New Christian Music Magazine 1997-2008 -Church News Editor, Church Herald Magazine 2004-2009

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