Across The Finish Line; ArtPrize 2021 in Review

Jarett Wall and Jazzmyne Ortiz, Contributing Writer

With ArtPrize finished, the community of Grand Rapids reviews its prestigious artists. This year’s festivities being the largest in the event’s history, for voters had a contestant pool of over 955 artists to choose from this year. Art Prizes’ all-new expanded categories include 3D, Contemporary Black Art, and Honda Design and Drive.

The artists come from all over the United States. From our communities in Michigan to Seattle to Georgia and even Japan. Their motivations vary widely from honoring the memory of a man’s father like that of Stephen Messing to raising awareness of the struggles of the disabled community like that of Oaklee Thiele.

One local artist from Michigan named Kaylee Bearss described her motivation as “bringing out the joy of childhood back to many adults who have forgotten what it’s like to experience fun.” Her project featured a large rectangular back that has a decidedly new twist on the game twister. Unlike the original game, you must struggle to stay upright, and the unfortunate player who falls loses.

From Massachusetts, Liz Albert and Shane VanOosterhoot left a unique mark on this year’s ArtPrize. After rummaging through discarded clutter, they acquired Polaroids dating back to 60 years ago. Bringing the snapshots to life, they added snippets of conversations, journals, and inner thoughts. They attached a touch of human connection and feeling to previously distant and outdated photos.

Finally, winning the Grand Prize this year, artists Christian Reichle & Monica Pritchard designed a piece named “Before You Go” that includes a phone in which the person placing a call can choose on which topic they would like to receive advice. These topics range from “life, death, and our collective hopes, dreams, and regrets within them.” The interviews support the project themes of intergenerational connection, mortality, missed opportunities, isolation, and introspection. The team aims to expose our similarities and encourage conversation between generations that “we may forget before it is too late.” The voice samples are collected from the community residents of Grand Rapids from various walks of life. One such piece of advice coming from an older woman states, “I wish I would have done more with connecting with people. I was a lawyer. I was solitary for many years. I wish I spent more time with people”. This artwork reminds the community to take everything in “before we go.”