Last Saturday Kyle and I took a day trip to Grand Rapids for ArtPrize.  I spent a few hours on their website in the days leading up to Saturday, scrolling through the image gallery and reading the different artist statements.  You can create an online account to build collections of artworks you want to see during your visit.  I only wish you could organize your collections by location/neighborhood because it’s highly likely that your collection will include works from all over the city and that one day just won’t be enough time to see everything in your collection.  You can also vote for your favorite works, and the winner is rewarded with a large cash prize.

I will say ArtPrize has gone to great lengths to involve the public in the event.  Many of the works are outside or on display in business windows, meaning you can view the art during a stroll downtown.  You can go online, read about a particular work, and link a facebook update or tweet to the artwork’s page.  Plus, you get to vote on the winner.  You have a voice in awarding the “art prize.”  I love that the event is so community-focused.  Oftentimes, interacting with art is intimidating: visiting museums and galleries and going on guided tours doesn’t appeal to everyone.  Those art experiences are sometimes so centered on talking about technique and meaning and process that it makes viewing art seem like work.  Some people love it; but not everyone.  What’s so special about ArtPrize is that, yes, some of the art provokes a lot of discussion about technique, and meaning, and process.  But some of the art is also just fun, engaging to look at, fantastical, silly, playful, etc.  There’s really something for everyone – kids and adults, guys and gals, and both art-lovers and inexperienced art viewers.

While I had several artworks on my collection “list” to view, we only ended up seeing two of the works in person.  And that ended up being just fine.  We spent most of the day just wandering around and happening upon artworks.  While it was great being able to research a few select works that I was really interested in viewing and thinking about, it was also great being surprised by artworks at every shop window and corner.  It made for a cheap day-trip.  All we paid for was the gas money to drive out to Grand Rapids and for lunch.  But for free, we got several hours of seeing downtown and talking about all of the great art.

 Below are photos from our excursion.  Over the course of the next week or so, I’ll post individual artworks and talk about their different classroom applications.  The ArtPrize website is awesome in that it provides images of the artworks along with artist statements.  So even if you don’t go to ArtPrize, you can still view the works, build a collection, and use the images and artist statements in your teaching.  You could even have your students go online and curate a collection based on a particular theme, technique, medium, mood, process, etc.  Yay for FREE art resources!

"Fantastic Carousel of Dreams" by Jennifer Rutherford

"Norm" by John Andrews

"Making Rainbows" by Lynnea Strout

"Floral Flourish" by Donna Engstrom

"Bird Feeder" by Tom Sheerin

"Old Tired Crow" by Nick Jakubiak

    About Me

    A lover of literature and the arts and an advocate for global awareness and active citizenship, I spend my days with high school English and Social Studies students exploring why it all matters and how they can have a voice in the world.  This is my space to document and reflect on my practice, note happenings in education, and share my appreciation for the arts.

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