Double feature: Veteran quiltmaker makes history at Employee Art Exhibition

November 13, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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When Zandra Kunzelman attended the 2018 Gifts of Art Employee Art Exhibition awards reception last month, she thought she’d just have the chance to enjoy the company of other creative colleagues.

But then the patient services senior — who performs clerical work in the Department of Radiology — was announced as the winner of the People’s Choice Award for her art quilt, Todd.

“Winning an award voted on by everyone who attends the exhibition was such a surprise and honor,” said Kunzelman. “But as I was walking away, they said they weren’t done with me. I couldn’t believe what was happening.”

Indeed, Kunzelman was then named Best in Show, becoming the first employee to capture both of those awards in the 31-year history of the exhibition.

Zandra Kunzelman, right, with awards reception host Shon Dwyer.

A love for quilting

Kunzelman has been quilting for about 25 years, adopting it as a hobby during her previous career at a factory in Jackson.

“There were a bunch of women I was friends with who quilted in their free time, so that sparked my interest,” Kunzelman said. “Since then, I’ve moved to Michigan Medicine, but stayed involved in quilting guilds and other groups to keep improving my skills.”

Her award-winning creation came as a result of a project from her guild. She chose a fun and artistic pattern that involved a fox and got to work.

“The guild is constantly challenging us and encouraging us to expand our boundaries and creativity,” Kunzelman said. “I couldn’t be happier with how this quilt turned out.”

So she entered it into this year’s exhibition — only the second time she had entered the annual competition since coming to Michigan Medicine nearly two decades ago.

“I figured, why not? It’s a great outlet for artists and an easy way to connect with colleagues from across the organization,” Kunzelman said.

Cheerful diversions

Todd was one of 93 entries in this year’s show. All of the pieces were created by Michigan Medicine faculty, staff, volunteers or their family members.

“We work with so many different people who have so many different talents,” Kunzelman said. “And typically we only see them through the lens of work. So this is a really neat opportunity to see another side of our coworkers.”

Among the exhibition — which is on display through Dec. 7 in the Gifts of Art gallery on the first floor of Taubman Center — are paintings, photographs, jewelry, mixed media collages and, of course, quilts. The pieces come together to create an eye-opening exhibition that cheers up patients, families and team members.

“Every piece submitted this year is incredible,” Kunzelman said. “It’s just humbling to be a part of the show. All I can do is thank those who voted for my piece and made me feel so good — I just hope my art does the same for them.”

Here’s a complete look at this year’s winners and check out the photo gallery above for a closer look at their artistic creations:

  • Painting: Harriet by Merideth Sauvé, nursing clerical services
    • Honorable mention: Green Sea Turtle by Jeffrey Pollack, security key and ID office
  • Drawing and pastel: Love Shack by Michael Dority, internal medicine
    • Honorable mention: Rosa Roja by Andrea Lizarazc, daughter of Hosanna Broner, interpreter services
  • Collage and mixed media: Two Parts of a Dream, Part One by Ken Estell, HITS
    • Honorable mention: On the Reef by Lisa Singer, adult inpatient psychiatry
  • Black and white photography: Michigan Theater Time Sequence by Thomas Rode, kinesiology
    • Honorable mention: Dunedin Train Station by Julie Agbabian, ambulatory care
  • Color photography: Standing Strong by Sonal Kamalia, internal medicine
    • Honorable mention: Lanterns by Yaojan Liu, otolaryngology
  • Fiber arts: Misty Copeland – Principle Dancer by Kate Lebowsky, Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine
    • Honorable mention: Lake Sunset by Elizabeth Jewell, anesthesiology
  • Jewelry: Ethiopian Opals – Medallion No. 1 by Baron L.J. Robertson, son of Kelly Robertson, Transplant Center
    • Honorable mention: Bangle Bangle by Debra Omans, CCMU
  • Ceramics and glasswork: Carved Mug Set by Angela Liang, obstetrics and gynecology
    • Honorable mention: Bubble Gum Bowl by Mollie Bodin, CTSO
  • Sculpture and assemblage: Welcome Home by Dean Mueller, Department of Surgery
    • Honorable mention: Barn Owl by Paul Behm, patient transport
  • Upcycled/repurposed: Sea Unique Fishes by Gatika Patel, wife of Vipul Patel, physical therapy
    • Honorable mention: Family Dinner by Dean Mueller, Department of Surgery
  • Best in Show: Todd by Zandra Kunzelman, Department of Radiology
  • People’s Choice: Todd by Zandra Kunzelman, Department of Radiology

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