Art Prize 2017 Part One

September 26, 2017



Yay it is ArtPrize time in Grand Rapids, MI!  ArtPrize has been held annually in late September - early October since 2009.

























Artists show works at various venues throughout the city, the public and judges cast their votes,  and the winners take away cash prizes.



There have been some fantastic winners in the past but my favorite so far was the 2014 winner Intersections by Anila Agha .  If you aren't following her work you are missing out  -  her installations are AMAZING!


I would love to see all of the works this year but I don't think that is going to happen. I have seen all of the pieces at GRAM  and here are my favorites : 


The Language is Asleep is an installation by Chris Vitiello that is spectacular! In this work he examines how communication and language have disintegrated and become exhausted in our society. The gallery walls and floor are covered in dictionary pages adorned with poems by the artist. The viewer is free to take a poem from the floor or he will compose one inspired by a word provided by the viewer. I gave him 'frustration' and got this lovely piece:




Throughout the day an alarm clock rings and "wakes language up" and the artist transforms into the poetry fox typing up prose on a typewriter in an alcove off of the main installation. I unfortunately have not yet been at GRAM when "language is awake" to see the poetry fox.


Text and language in art have always appealed to me because of the different ways they can behave and meanings that can apply. I especially love how text in The Language is Asleep  fosters conversation.  

Digital Landscape by Amy Helminiak is another piece that examines language and communication. Each panel consists of tiny images from the internet printed on Dibond that from a distance look like emojis.  The viewer needs to be as close as possible to see the images in each panel that alternate between various images of two items (Bernie Sanders and unicorns for example.)  The two images remain consistent throughout their panel and cleverly convey the artist's message. I suggest looking at the images in this series before reading the titles to see if you can decode the intended message. 


Kaphor by Emily Mayo is a lovely 3D work made from charred pieces of wood from house arson in Flint, MI. The large, burned, pieces of wood arranged as steps (Depth: 5ft.  Width: 13ft. Height: 2ft.) are balanced precariously and expertly on a sterile, white platform. The counterweight in the base keeps the wood from tipping over and gives the appearance that the wood is levitating. The structure is both imposing in size and fragile with the use of charred wood that looks like it will crumble at any moment. I absolutely LOVE this piece.  


Katherine Corpe's Magna  is a set of gorgeous and haunting monotype prints. In Magna there is a wonderful dichotomy between the density of the bold, black ink that the artist uses to create the figures and their weightless appearance on the white paper. To me these prints capture the mixed feelings of freedom and the fear of aimlessly drifting.    



Income Inequality, Imagine  by Jordyn Fishman is a 24 foot long painting in various media depicting education and income inequality that is increasing every day in America. There is a lot going on in this work and I LOVE it! The mixture of images and text Ms. Fishman uses is brilliant and thought provoking.The panels start at the left and move right showing the rat race beginning in grade school and continuing through university and the corporate world.

Text like "1% Baddest" and "everything burns" intertwined with the images strengthen the artist's message. The text and imagery throughout the work made me contemplate what is truly important in life and how corporations have impacted society.


Overall I found the works at GRAM thought provoking and liked the focus on text and communication. Did I mention how much I love text in art???? Anyway .... I plan to see and write about the following pieces over the duration of ArtPrize (Sep 20 - Oct 8, 2017) : 


Burden at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum by Amelia Volwiler-Stanley


Old (Dead) Masters by Marie Marfia at The Bitter End Coffee Shop  


Fixed It For You  by E.J. Cobb  and Shimmering Creed Shine Brightest by Madhurima Ganguly at Cerasus Studio


If you are in Grand Rapids and want to share your favorite ArtPrize entries that would be fab! 








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