Monday, 26 August 2013 11:54

Collaborative Entry Gets to the Heart of ArtPrize

Written by  Kyle Austin
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Connected: Art from a Spiritual Perspective
Harris Building, 111 S. Division
Sept. 18-Oct. 6

The fifth installment of ArtPrize will again feature an overwhelming amount of painstakingly planned and prepared visual stimuli, but the entry that might best embody the event's overarching purpose was created in the spirit of pure randomness.

Connected: Art from a Spiritual Perspective is the brainchild of Tammy Tappan, an artist and Kendall College alumni who is experiencing ArtPrize for the first time. The project pairs 30 artists and 30 storytellers together to probe the meaning of fundamental human concepts like love, pain and forgiveness through a collaboration of painting and writing. With the event dominated by hefty cash prizes, furious text-voting, giant animal sculptures and innumerable junk collages, viewers can easily forget that the primary mission of ArtPrize is to facilitate discussion about art and its role in our society.

"We didn't go into this thinking we would win - that's not the objective," Tappan said. "Really, the objective is to share the content with as many people as possible. If we can get people to think about respecting the ideas of others, we can move toward tolerance and understanding using art as a device to communicate."

First, the artists and storytellers were randomly paired and assigned a word. From there, the storytellers were to craft a short piece of writing, be it a personal story, collection of thoughts or a memory that they felt represented that word. Then, the artists were encouraged to paint not a literal depiction of the writing, but rather an inspired interpretation based on their own thoughts, feelings and emotions. For many of the artists, it was an entirely new and challenging experience.

"When I talked to our artists, it seemed like a common theme that [the experience] made them stretch themselves artistically beyond what they would typically do," Tappan said. "They found there was always a way to convey the message outside of their comfort zone."

The resulting "conversations" will be published in book format, but Tappan felt ArtPize would be the perfect forum to display the fruits of these unique interactions. The Harris Building, a new site for 2013, will feature all 30 collaborations, displayed side-by-side, and Tappan plans on making guide tours available to viewers, aimed at helping them understand the project's deeper meaning. The artists will also be on-site throughout ArtPrize to create impromptu paintings of still more conceptual words so that audiences can get a glimpse at this communicative process in action.

"A lot of artists are resistant to commission work, because if you don't meet the expectations of the customer, it can be a frustrating experience," Tappan said. "One of the underlying themes of the project is that we're all allowed an opinion and that there is no wrong answer."

Other Literary Events

An Irregular Heartbeat Book Release
Heartside Gallery & Studio, Grand Rapids
Sept. 6, 6 p.m.

As a great warm-up for ArtPrize, help Heartside Gallery and Studio celebrate its 20 year history at this free book release event. The gallery raised funds via Kickstarter to compile and publish a 100-page hardcover book that pays homage to the local artists who made this art resource what it is today. Images of more than 30 artists and their work are included, as well as autobiographies, stories, poems and jokes. Copies of the book will be available at the event.

Word – The Diatribe ArtPrize 2013

The B.O.B., Grand Rapids
Sept. 18-Oct. 6

Fueled by the efforts of poet Azizi Jasper, Duke Greene and Venison Dix of Punksuhate and others, Word is sure to be one of the most unique and compelling ArtPrize entries of 2013. Billed as a fluid display of the power, beauty and versatility of the word as an art form, the display will treat visitors of The B.O.B. with a healthy dose of what happens when words transcend the page to spill out onto the canvas of the world. In addition to a permanent exhibit, the entry will feature performances twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Poetry and Sculpture: A Meditative Space
Grand Valley State University – Pew Campus
Sept. 18-Oct. 6

This ArtPrize entry spotlights the collaborative efforts of GVSU students and faculty who seek to explore the intertwining possibilities of engaging poetry and interactive art installations. With materials including tree stumps, branches, wind-chimes and a wooden path, the pieces will jump out at viewers as they pass by, just as the poems written by talented amateur and professional poets will call out to be read.

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