ArtPrize entry supplies comfort for grieving mother

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - After losing her daughter in a car accident, Debra Skuse has found healing with the help of the Top 20 ArtPrize piece, "Breakthrough."

A year ago, Skuse lost her 20-year-old daughter, Megan, in a car accident. Broken and searching for answers, Debra then saw a story about Breakthrough on FOX 17 in July. Skuse said the piece helped her break free from the sadness surrounding her daughter's death.

Artist Mark Bird said he and his team have witnessed this type of healing since the project began six months ago. "And that’s what this piece of art is about, is giving you some hope," said Bird.

Since March, people have literally thrown their struggles against a wall while Mark and his team assembled the broken bits of ceramic pottery into a half ton mosaic of a phoenix rising from fire and ash.

"I can see all the broken pieces, the people," said Skuse. "Now I understand, and I didn't at first."

"She passed away in a car accident," said Skuse said of her daughter. "Her and her boyfriend were out on the snowy roads."

Skuse said her daughter was an artist going to college for visual arts before her death. When Megan died, Skuse was only left with a set of dishes to remember her daughter. For more than seven years, she has has been afraid of breaking or chipping the mementos, fearful of losing her daughter forever.

In July, Skuse saw the Breakthrough piece featured here on FOX 17 and said she immediately knew what she had to do.

"So I thought, Hey, let’s take it into my hands and break it myself and she can be in ArtPrize," said Skuse. "And Mark told me he had a special place for it in a teardrop."

Mark Bird said the teardrop is a symbol of healing in the Greek myth of the Phoenix.

"I really wanted to specifically put her piece and her story into one of those because it was begging for it," said Bird. "I felt really honored to have that opportunity to her."

Skuse said the memory of her daughter is preserved now that her daughter's dish is in ArtPrize. And like the hundreds of people helped by the Breakthrough team, Skuse and her family now have a new hope for the future.

As for ArtPrize, the Breakthrough mosaic is located outside near the entrance to DeVos Place. Since it's a time based entry, you can still get involved in one of the public breaking sessions from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

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