GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — They've become a popular piece to pose and take pictures with, but there is a special story behind the Red Glasses sculpture installed outside of the Grand Rapids Public Museum for ArtPrize 2021.
Sam Noordhoff created the sculpture in honor of Audrey Jandernoa, the little girl who sparked the Red Glasses Movement.
"I learned that her red glasses were sort of her trademark that she always wore and woke up excited for every day. And I thought, 'Okay, how can I design red glasses to draw attention to that, that can get people inspired more and to learn more about the foundation itself?'" explained Noordhoff. "[I finally] ended up with just a simple design where kids can interact and sit in it and enjoy it, and then maybe learn something from that."
Kelly Jandernoa said her family was "blown away" to learn that Noordhoff wanted to honor their daughter with the piece.
"Our daughter Audrey had Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect, but those were definitely not the only things that defined her," Jandernoa told FOX 17 News. "She was known for bright-red glasses... And she just was a firecracker. I mean, she just really didn't let anything hold her back."
She added, "[Audrey] just really persevered. And she just also had a lovely way of bringing people together and just showing us how to be kind to complete strangers and what beautiful relationships come out of that."
Audrey passed in 2018, but her memory lives on with the Red Glasses Movement.
"The Red Glasses Movement is just simply an inspirational movement to encourage people to live boldly, love big and pass it on, just like our daughter Audrey did," explained Jandernoa.
Tens of thousands of pairs of bright-red glasses have been shared around the world, and now this ArtPrize exhibit is amplifying the message with the nearly four-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture.
"It's just a cool way for us to continue to learn from each other and inspire one another," said Jandernoa. "We are encouraging people when they come down to the red glasses to, first of all, enjoy them and just learn the message. That's the biggest takeaway, is just to learn how to live differently, and we hope that people feel inspired... we have a QR code that's on the storyboard and on our cards and we would love for people to just download their photo there to our website and share how they live boldly, love big and pass it on."
A "Meet Me at the Red Glasses" event is scheduled for this Sunday, Sept. 26 from noon to 4 p.m. The hope is to bring people together at the sculpture.
To learn more about the event, or the Red Glasses Movement, click here.
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