ArtPrize Pitch Night Winners: Poetry Fox, Wall of 5,000 Mirrors, Extinction Simulation, More
ArtPrize Pitch Night is a way to discover and support out-of-town artists. Winners receive $5,000 and prime spot to display their work at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.
Pitch Night has grown each year since its debut in 2013. This year, ArtPrize Pitch Night has expanded to six cities.
Learn about this year’s winning projects, artists and where to find them at ArtPrize Nine.
ArtPrize Nine is set for September 20 – October 8 in Grand Rapids. We continue to learn more about the art and artists who will be here this fall. That list now includes the six ArtPrize Pitch Night winners.
The ArtPrize Pitch Night winners competed in cities across the country to earn a prime location at ArtPrize and $5,000 to support their work. It’s proven to be a good recipe to get good art to ArtPrize and a great recipe for success for artists.
Some of this year’s winners seem to have some promise:
- “Red Dirt Rug” fits the bill for the type of installation which has been popular with the public in the past.
- “Canceled Edition” poses an interesting concept. Will Grand Rapids clear out a species in a “greed”-filled quest for souvenirs? Or will ArtPrize visitors show some restraint and allow the species to remain throughout the competition? Visitors will be encouraged to take home a bird off of a wall ultimately leading to its extinction, but will they?
- “The Language is Asleep” will raise many questions, but may possibly become best remembered by some for the interactive appearance of Poetry Fox on the last Friday of ArtPrize.
You never know what to expect at ArtPrize and that’s why we love it.
Detroit: Twisted Pipe Installation
Nina Caruso and Christopher Schneider won Pitch Night Detroit with ‘Anonymous’ earning them a spot at Vandenberg Center.
Caruso and Schneider, both artists and teachers, drew inspiration for ‘Anonymous’ from their experience at ArtPrize in 2016 with the entry ‘Hybrid Structures’ at SiTE:LAB. The entry was series of ramps which connected abandoned buildings and invited exploration.
Caruso and Schneider started playing with the structure’s railings and speaking through them. They were struck by how well sound traveled through the pipes and started experimenting with metal pipes.
“We wanted to find a way to communicate with people so that you could be somewhat anonymous but also present, the person you’re talking to is there,” said Schneider. “Ultimately we’re looking at what ArtPrize does successfully — making it accessible to the public, inviting everyone to come in and participate — and building on that.”
Part sculpture, part social experiment, the medium for ‘Anonymous’ will be four lengths of metal pipe, jumbled and twisted into a freestanding, three-dimensional sculpture roughly twenty feet long and ten feet tall. Each of the eight pipe ends will be capped with a funnel-like piece, through which ArtPrize goers are invited to speak or to listen.
“When you talk into one end, you won’t know who’s on the other end hearing what you’re saying. It could be the person right next to you, it could be the person across the way,” continued Schneider. “We see this as a social experiment — to see what people will say in such a context, where you have some anonymity. Maybe something enlightening, uplifting, funny, challenging, silly or heartfelt.”
Indianapolis: Wall of 5,000 Mirrors
C.T. Hankins won Pitch Night Indianapolis with ’A Bit of Me in You (Echo Point)’ earning him a spot on the plaza outside Van Andel Arena.
“A Bit of Me in You (Echo Point)” is a sixteen foot wide by six foot high curved wall comprised of more than 5,000 mirrored tiles. When the viewer approaches the wall, they see thousands of images of themself. Missing tiles in the wall give the viewer the opportunity to engage others on the opposite side of the wall by seeing only the eyes of the other peering through the reflection of themself.
“’A Bit of Me in You (Echo Point)’ is about bringing people together to see how similar we truly are. People from all walks of life and geographies can look through these openings and see how easily their noses, their eyes, and the rest of their face line up with people from anywhere else.” said C.T. Hankins about the work which is currently on display at the Indianapolis Art Center. “The work was born out of my focus on creating an artwork that would only be activated with two or more people present. It is meant to help people appreciate the present moment by making selfies difficult. A Bit of Me in You is offered to assist in visualizing ourselves in someone else’s shoes.”
In addition to transportation costs, Hankins intends to use the $5,000 grant to build a base for the work that would allow it to stand securely without any need to break the ground of the Van Andel Arena plaza. Hankins also plans on sourcing local materials. The sculpture has been on display for 10 months at the Indianapolis Art Center.
Bentonville: Red Dirt Rug
Rena Detrixhe won Pitch Night Bentonville with “Red Dirt Rug” earning her a spot at Western Michigan University in Grand Rapids.
“This piece is part sculpture, part performance, part ritual and meditation,” said Detrixhe. “It embodies the complicated history of our relationship to the land, to place the weight of human impact on the environment. It questions our perceptions of permanence and impermanence, and challenges how we ascribe value to the land.”
Over the past year and a half, Detrixhe has explored the landscape of Oklahoma — its history and its geography. Like many others, it is a place where human presence has deeply altered the landscape. As the daughter of a soil conservationist and a ceramicist, Detrixhe was drawn to the rich red dirt, the dirt of the Dust Bowl.
Her Pitch Night-winning project is a site-specific carpet made out of this red dirt. The artist will collect more than 240 gallons of red soil, refining it all by hand before creating the installation. She will spread the dust in a thin, even layer on the floor at Western Michigan University Grand Rapids — creating a 1,000-square foot canvas on which to apply a pattern with modified shoe soles one shape at a time, until the form of the rug is revealed on the surface. The shoe prints act as an indicator of human presence, of culture and pattern, and also represent a literal separator between people and the earth.
“Our complicated relationships to the land live outside the constructs of ‘state’, and the art does as well,” said Detrixhe about her work. “I believe it’s meaningful to create this work in Michigan at this time of political and environmental uncertainty. Michigan in particular is vulnerable to threats to the environment — it is home to the largest freshwater source on earth. Concerns such as the water crisis in Flint, air and water pollution in Detroit and elsewhere, and the potential for disastrous oil spills, threaten this important landscape.”
Durham: “The Language is Asleep”
Chris Vitiello won Pitch Night Durham with ‘The Language is Asleep’ earning him a spot at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Vitiello will transform the Porter Gallery at the Grand Rapids Art Museum into a place for language to rest and rejuvenate. The artist explained that language, much like a person, can tire, and that misuse, overuse and abuse in the increasingly divisive state of public discourse has exhausted language to the point where it is breaking down and has lost meaning.
“Language, when it gets exhausted, needs to rest,” said Vitiello during his pitch at tonight’s event. “Language needs to dream, to reconnect with its power, with its potential. Then we can wake it back up once it has slept and replenished itself.”
The artist will cover the walls, floor and ceiling in the GRAM gallery space, immersing ArtPrize goers with over 3,000 original one-line poems written on dictionary pages. Then throughout ArtPrize, the artist will write additional one-line poems from on a ladder or on a nest made of dictionaries. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to give him a word or phrase for a poem, which they can then take home to keep.
On the last Friday of ArtPrize, he will waken language in a public ritual that will include all those present in the gallery after which he will transform into Poetry Fox who will create custom poems for visitors.
Louisville: “Unlearn Fear & Hate”
Kurt Ghode and Kremena Todorova won Pitch Night Louisville with ‘Unlearn Fear & Hate’ earning a guaranteed spot at Lyon Square for ArtPrize Nine.
The interactive public artwork, ‘Unlearn Fear & Hate’ launched in August 2016 at 21c Musuem Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky. Artists Ghode and Todorova drew inspiration from the need for artworks that address growing national tensions and is based in the belief that fear and hate are learned behaviors that can be unlearned. Each iteration of the work has asked visitors to take pictures and share on social media — creating a visual petition advocating for the need to unlearn fear and prejudice.
“Having my picture taken in front of the halo means I believe it’s important to consider the ways in which I might be prejudiced against others and work to become less so, or the ways in which I might cause fear in others and change how I move through the world. And I also need to think about ways my community lives with fear and hatred,” said Todorova of this collaborative project.
Ghode and Todorova will stencil a mosaic-like pattern of thirty halos on the ground, as well as transform the railing along the river’s edge into a large half-halo. Each will include the words “Unlearn Fear & Hate” in one of thirty different languages — representing the most popular languages spoken in Grand Rapids.
New Orleans: Extinction Simulation
Pippin Frisbie-Calder won Pitch Night New Orleans with ‘Cancelled Edition’ earning her a spot at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts during ArtPrize Nine.
‘Canceled Edition’ is a collection of approximately 400 hand-carved, woodcut prints of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, once prevalent in Louisiana but now unseen since the 1940s and believed to be extinct. Each bird is hand painted, half as males with red heads and half as females without.
ArtPrize visitors will be encouraged to each take a bird home with them, and through this audience participation the goal of the project is to simulate the extinction and loss of a species.
“Individuals are able to participate one-by-one in watching a large-scale wall of a species that seems to be vibrant and living and fully intact, slowly deteriorate,” said Frisbie-Calder of visitors interacting with a past installation of this work. “You can put it on your wall or on your fridge, and it creates these dialogues in your home where people are looking at their participation in the loss of a species but also being able to have a piece of art at home that has hundreds of hours put into it.”
The birds will be installed at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts with nails and magnets. Each nail will have a specimen label that reads “Greed,” “The Cost of Hubris,” and “The Consequence of Collection.”
When someone removes one of the birds from the wall, all that remains will be the nail and the tag — and they will be asked to complete a ‘Canceled Edition’ hunting license asking how many birds they took, how many remain, and whether they took the last one.