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Project 1 Brings Installations from 5 World-Renowned Artists to Grand Rapids

Project 1 Brings Installations from 5 World-Renowned Artists to Grand Rapids 1

Last year, after 10 years of the annual art competition, ArtPrize shifted to a biennial format, making way for its new “Project” series. During these project years, ArtPrize works with commissioned artists on large-scale installations. By providing funding and resources on the front end, ArtPrize is able to carefully select artists and collaborate more closely with them, planning ambitious citywide projects.

(Interested in hearing more about the creation of Project 1? Take a listen to our podcast with ArtPrize Executive Director Jori Bennett and Artistic Director Kevin Buist!)

Project 1: Crossed Lines kicked off in September. This year’s iteration features work from five world-renowned artists exploring the theme of lines that unite and divide a city, and what it means to belong.

Installations include the following (as found here):

The Oracle of the Soulmates – Heather Hart


Heather Hart creates submerged rooftops, complete with shingles and dormer windows, that look like they were dropped from the sky. The rooftops refer to home, stability or shelter. Hart speaks about the rooftops as thresholds between public and private space. Combined with family and oral histories, and activated by performance, her work explores the power these thresholds have in our lives, and become stages from which power can be reclaimed.

For Project 1 by ArtPrize, Hart created The Oracle of the Soulmates — twin rooftop sculptures, one in the center of Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, the other on the lawn in MLK Park. Climb on the rooftops and venture inside the attics. And don’t miss the series of live performances that will happen on the rooftops throughout Project 1 this fall.

Critical Infrastructure – Paul Amenta & Ted Lott

Project 1 Brings Installations from 5 World-Renowned Artists to Grand Rapids

Photo by Kallie Spidahl

Paul Amenta & Ted Lott, known for their history of wide-ranging collaborative artistic productions with SiTE:LAB, presented Critical Infrastructure — a site-specific architectural intervention at the landmark Tanglefoot Building, a fly paper factory that now holds artist studios. In collaboration with DisArt, an arts and culture organization that focuses on creating public art events that cultivate and communicate a disabled culture, the intervention created an environment that addresses issues of accessibility in both form and function. The project reimagines the site by temporarily transforming a private space into a fully accessible public space, through a series of ramps and landings which welcome visitors and a wide variety of performances and interventions by other artists. Throughout Project 1, it serves as an armature, facilitating dynamic programming and community engagement.

Voice Bridge – Rafael Lozano-Hemmer


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer develops interactive installations that live at the intersection of architecture and performance art. For Project 1 by ArtPrize, he created a site-specific installation called Voice Bridge. Along the handrails of Grand Rapids’ iconic Blue Bridge, you’ll find speakers and 400 lights that shine on the footpath of the bridge. You can control the intensity of each light by speaking into the intercoms at each end of the bridge and recording a message. Once recorded, your message will play back as a loop — jumping from speaker to speaker across the bridge as more messages are recorded.

Kaleidoscopic – Amanda Browder

Project 1 Brings Art from 5 World-Renowned Artists to Grand Rapids

Amanda Browder typically works with the community where she’s been commissioned and makes extremely large-scale fabric conglomerates. For Project 1, she invited locals to not only donate fabric, but also to get their hands dirty by sitting at the sewing machine. Under Browder’s direction, they collectively sewed together enough fabric to cover three walkways in Downtown Grand Rapids and a former gym at Martin Luther King Jr Park. The results prove colorful and otherworldly, transforming architecture into something warm, familiar and nostalgic.

The Boom and the Bust – Olalekan Jeyifous


Olalekan Jeyifous is a Nigerian born, Brooklyn-based artist and architect. His work in public art, installation, drawing, collage and design explores the past and potential futures of urban environments.

For Project 1 by ArtPrize, he created The Boom and the Bust — a monumental sculpture referencing the historic and contemporary challenges of housing discrimination and the inequities of urban life. This abstracted multi-story building form rises 25-feet from the ground at the corner of Louis St and Monroe Ave in downtown Grand Rapids. The sculpture arises from the artist’s research into the recent history of housing in Grand Rapids. By combining references to skyscrapers and single-family houses, it reflects the juxtaposition between massive downtown development happening alongside foreclosure and displacement.

Project 1 runs through October 27. On Saturday, October 26, in celebration of the final weekend of Project 1, the community is invited for an evening at Studio Park. Kicking off with a press conference, the evening will include several exciting announcements for ArtPrize 2020 and live music in the Studio Park Listening Room.

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