Thomas Birks

Born and Raised in Grand Rapids…
Ottawa Hills High School 1979
Kendall School of Art & Design: BFA Illustration 1986
New York University: Certificate, Film 1988

Thomas spent some time overseas and within the continent too… but he makes his home in Eastown, just blocks from where he grew up. After 16 years working as an animation designer (motion graphics) for television and film, Thomas finds himself freelancing as an editor, animator, builder, and part-time designer of a flying pig of epic proportions…

Joachim Jensen

Joachim Jensen came to the United States from Oslo, Norway. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design from Kendall College of Art & Design.

Although his talents spread across many industries, the focal point of his work is contract furniture. Joachim has worked with multiple design firms on seating projects for the American market and abroad. He has since established his own design studio, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As principal of Dygon Product Development, Joachim specializes in office seating, ergonomics and prototyping. With his Scandinavian heritage, European style and American influences, Joachim creates simple, clean and honest furniture for the modern global market. Now he is committed to making large scale mythical monsters.

Last year, our team delivered “Nessie On The Grand” to the throngs of people during ArtPrize. A legend in our midst. She captured the hearts and minds of thousands and, we were awarded 6th Place in a field of over 1200.

This year we propose a myth. Of epic proportions. 55’Lx25’Hx25’W; With the help of sponsors we would like to build the full scale piece and deliver… ‘Parsifal, The Steam Pig’ to Artprize 2010.

The Steampig
Art form: 3-D, Sound

Medium: Large Scale Multi-Media Sculpture

Description of work: a large three-dimensional multi-media sculpture of a Steam Operated Flying Porcine Craft…the logistics of building ‘Parsifal’ the SteamPig are just as daunting as they were for building Nessie. Think turn-of-the century industrial revolution in modern times… the flying machines of the early 1900s and an animal that shouldn’t fly…

An homage to the machinist mentality of the late 1800′s and early 1900′s; the steam engines that propelled the railroad and images from novels by authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells; in the vein of ‘steampunk’ or a mix of turn-of-the-century architecture and elements of the Industrial Revolution.

We see many parallels with the The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and what it did for the city of Chicago, and Artprize, for what it is doing for the city of Grand Rapids. The story of Parsifal the Steampig begins during this exhibition and continues to present day.

More info on


One response

  1. LeeAnn Olsen

    Very Jules Verne!! I like the comment about the Chicago Worlds Fair, how fitting this is and I agree with the comment about what this is doing for our fair city. I can’t wait for this years event! I have people (artists in their own right) coming into town to see ArtPrize and may enter next year.
    Thanks you guys for keep, keepin’ on!

    August 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

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