Rhino by Bountom Vongkaysone
Photos courtesy of Tess Washburn
You may not have heard of Grand Rapids, but this Michigan city is creating a buzz with its unconventional approach to art exhibitions. Love. Lust. Politics. Peace. It’s all on display.
ArtPrize, a nonprofit venture, began in 2009 as a way for artists from anywhere in the world to install their work anywhere in Grand Rapids—all for a chance to win prizes worth much more than a starving artist’s salary.
The citywide exhibition is always FREE and open to the public. $200,000 is awarded to the participating artist (must be 18 or older) who receives the most votes from the public. The catch? To vote, you must be present at the event. A juried award of $200,000 and additional category prizes totaling $100,000 are also up for grabs.
Fenced In by Cassandra Burgess
This year’s event feels especially tactile and interactive. From Cassandra Burgess’ 3D installation depicting the isolation of human trafficking to Leroi DeRubertis’ ENMESH, a vast collection of metal figurine mobiles that twist and turn as visitors move through the space, it’s all about connecting.
ArtPrize is scattered throughout the city thanks to businesses that team up with artists and offer spaces, large and small, for exhibits. We found artist Stacie Tamaki at the Grand Central Market and Deli, folding peace cranes at the venue she’s used for several years. For ArtPrize 2017, Tamaki submitted Acceptance, a meditation on the internment of her family members during WWII. Her three pieces, Internment, Kintsugi, and Filled with Love represent injustice, healing, and the acceptance of diversity.
Artist Chris Vitiello, aka the Poetry Fox, creates one-line poems for visitors from dictionaries and papers that are scattered at his feet. Participants call out a word and the poet responds with a custom, and often thought provoking, one-line poem to take home.
Chris Vitiello and his one-line poems
Harminder Boparai’s saffron-robed figure, as seen in the B.O.B., evokes a feeling of serenity against a cityscape backdrop and the crush of visitors.
Blessings by Harminder Boparai
ArtPrize has wrapped for the year. The votes have been tallied and you can see the winners here. We hope you’ll be inspired to visit next year, but in the meantime, you can search the database of 2017’s entries here. For more information and to learn how to submit your own project next year, please visit the ArtPrize website. See you in 2018!